There is a lot I don't know about finances, and I know that I am not alone, especially amongst our 20 something readers. That is why we have linked up with Natasha Filipov, founder of This Blonde Means Business, and she has written this exclusive piece for our DD readers filled with her journey with finances, tips for us all, and excellent resources.
By: Natasha Filipov
Finance. The very word used to give me PTSD thinking about when I sat in my college Introduction to Finance course, with an annoying fraternity connection mansplaining the part of the lecture I didn't understand. Week after week, I tried to force myself to care about and understand the time value of money, interest rates, bonds, capital budgeting, and so many other topics, but I didn't and couldn't. I used the excuse that "I wasn't good with numbers" to flub my way through achieving a C+ in that course and every other that followed regarding financial topics in business school.
I graduated with high honors as a Marketing Major and Communications Minor. Although my corporate job isn't in the finance department, I quickly realized post-grad how I would need to confront my fear of being inadequate in terms of finance. This summer, I sat around a happy hour table with a group of my girlfriends (some in business, some not). The conversation turned financial (which I'm a huge proponent of, btw). These conversations with friends help you know and define your worth and validate that your self-defined worth is in line with your market value. Out of a group of five women, only one friend admitted to feeling in control of her finances. The others laughed it off with things like, "Oh, my boyfriend handles all of that," or "my fiancé is good with money; I'm fine," and "I think investing is boring and don't understand it." I realized with shame that I was like the four of my friends. Ignorant. Ignorant to a world of freedom in terms of building your wealth.
I think women, in general, are not as informed about financial choices and options as men. My thoughts are statistically proven: there is a male-female financial-literacy gap. I don't know if this originates or relates to the olden age 18th century "cult of domesticity" where men were the breadwinners, or the financial field is still male-dominant (only 39.9% of financial analysts are female). Still, I find a real problem with this. There are a lot of factors and reasons for the lack of financial literacy. Whether you're male or female, I'm providing some resources in my journey to become more financially literate.
This Blonde Means Business - and is taking control of her financial education before it's too late. I'm not a certified financial planner/advisor, financial analyst, economist, CPA, accountant, or lawyer. I'm a young professional and recent college grad who believes in empowering herself and others to attempt to achieve financial freedom. The contents in this article are for informational and entertainment purposes only and do not constitute financial, accounting, or legal advice. These are the few practices I've recently focused on to manage, handle, and understand my finances in my twenties and beyond, which I believe are relevant to any young person.
Investing - I'm no Warren Buffet and don't think I'll ever be, but I have realized the power of investing and starting early. There is an INCREDIBLE amount to learn in terms of the market, much more than I ever plan on learning, but if you understand the basics, you can assess the types of investments and levels of risk you want to assume. You can also diversify your portfolio based on financial goals. Educate yourself on different financial instruments and have conversations with those around you about the stock market. I always consult my dad, who is well researched in the finance department. Whoever that person is in your life, pick their brain and learn as much as you can. If you don't know anyone to have the conversation with, there is a ton of literature on investing for beginners and a ton of free videos on Youtube. Just start somewhere. The stock market also is not the only kind of investing - real estate, private businesses, + cryptocurrency are all other types of investments. Although they tend to be less liquid, you can still achieve some return. Another investment that I think is important to make is an investment in yourself. Suppose you're inclined to further your education, get a professional certificate, take courses or classes, or hire/work with a professional coach in any capacity. In that case, there is an opportunity for increasing your potential, whatever your goals may be. Although returns are never guaranteed, safe investments can be an intelligent way to prepare for your future.
Saving for Retirement - If you're in your twenties and reading this, you may think this is a premature tip. However, the earlier you start saving, the better. An excellent option for retirement is an account offered by your employer, such as a 401k. If your company offers a match program, this is highly advantageous because your employer contributes a certain amount to your retirement savings plan based on the amount of your annual contribution. Clever Girl Finance provides more examples of this and advice in a great article. Other options are an IRA (Individual Retirement Account) or regular investment accounts.
Creating Multiple Income Streams - You may already be practicing this good financial habit without realizing it! Creating multiple income streams is a great goal to set to achieve financial freedom. People often think multiple income streams refer to getting an entire second job, and while it can mean that, we're really talking about money coming in from various sources. If you have old clothes around the house, sell them on Poshmark! Teach or coach private sports, dance, theatre classes. Offer an Airbnb experience! These are all examples of side hustles that will bring you multiple income streams.
Budgeting - Create a budget and stick to it! There are so many free tools and budget trackers online, and many finance pages on Instagram have templates you can use. Set realistic goals and adjust accordingly. The point of a budget is to grant you financial permissions, not make you feel restricted. Lastly, stay informed. Check your balance and statements often. Keep track of your most significant expenses and plan for what you want (i.e., vacations, luxury items).
I could provide so many more tips, but these are only a few I've been focusing on. Don't get discouraged, and don't be ignorant to the world of financial freedom that is possible if you take the time to learn a few fundamental principles! If you're interested in learning how to control your finances, follow @thisblondemeansbusiness on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. In October, we launched a personal finance podcast EP with Dana Pasqualone (available on all standard streaming platforms).