It’s easy to call out 2020 for not going according to plan.  However, as we wrap up the year, I took some time to celebrate 52 things I learned about money.  This list quickly could have included over 100 things, but I narrowed it down to just 52. A huge thank you to the experts that joined us each week to talk about their favorite money topics.

If you’re ready to increase your confidence with your money moves, have more money conversations, ask questions, learn something new, set a goal, and make a money move. And…don’t forget to celebrate your action, progress, and accomplishments. All right, let’s jump in!

  1. One strategy to build intergenerational wealth is to buy real estate.  Jessica Abegg shared several reasons why real estate is a great wealth catalyst.
  2. If you want to own real estate, talk to a mortgage officer or lender first.  Giedre Trahan shared that mortgage officers can help you make yourself a stronger candidate for a mortgage by helping you create a plan to pay down debt or increase your credit score. When you are the best candidate, you’ll get the best terms, which can save you thousands of dollars throughout a loan.
  3. Balance your sanity and your wallet with the right insurance coverage.  Everyone has a different risk tolerance and a different budget.  Shop around and find the best coverage for you, shares Amber Zamudio.
  4. You have a 95% chance of reaching your goal if you have ongoing meetings scheduled with an accountability partner. Our plans can be bigger!  If I told you that you had a 95% chance of achieving any financial goal in ten years, which one would you pick?  What would your next ten years look like?
  5. When talking to your partner about money (I call ours “State of Our Union”), Wendy Wright, Financial Therapist, taught us to approach the conversation with curiosity and compassion, not judgment.
  6. Jennifer Kenning of Align Invest invited us to research our current situation.  Where is your money (banks, stocks, funds)?  If you have a stock, research that stock.  If you want to research a fund, you can look up some of the top 10 stocks in that fund. Jenn mentioned using morningstar.com and Yahoo Finance to check your investments.
  7. When thinking about careers, Katy Flatau, Executive Coach, reminded us that we have a responsibility not only to ourselves but also to women following in our path. “If you’re not going to ask for a raise for yourself, do it for the women that will have your job after you.”  Know that each additional dollar you get will make it easier for other women to get paid what they are worth.
  8. Jamie Dandar is a confidence queen and gave us this reminder that what we have already achieved should provide us with the confidence to achieve more. When you want to focus on Mastery, ask yourself, what have you overcome so far?  I love the activity of focusing on a highlight reel of what you’ve done to date.  You are incredible, and those extraordinary things you have done so far should increase your confidence in going forward.  Use these highlights for your performance review.  And if you are self-employed, give yourself a performance review.
  9. Pledgettes Member Allie Moore of Creatives Learn Law presented to us about contracts.  My favorite line from Allie’s presentation is: “You can always do better than what your contract states, but you can’t do more.”  I might print this out and hang it in my office.  If you have a cancellation policy that states 90-day cancellation, but you want to let your client out with 30 days, you can.  If you want to keep them for 91 days, you can’t.
  10. Legal advice is the same as financial advice.  Avoid blanketed advice statements from professionals or family and friends.  Seek advice that is specific to your situation.  There are so many options to set up the right estate plan for you and talk to professionals about your real numbers and goals when getting advice. Pamela Maass of Law Mother walked through why creating an estate plan with an attorney will ensure your intentions align with your legal documents.
  11. When the market went into chaos in March/April, Cheryl Nelson Boyd, CFP, shared, “If your favorite store were having a sale on everything, you wouldn’t think it’s the end of the world.”  I loved this perspective from Cheryl.  Interestingly, we’re excited when stores have sales but scared when the market has a deal. It reminded me that Warren Buffet’s outlook on stocks is that you are buying a piece of a company – so make sure it’s a business you believe will do well and you believe in.  If your personal economy is stable and you have some extra money, it may be a good time to buy some stocks or funds while they are on sale.
  12. One of my mentors, Julie Withrow, gave us the advice back in April, “Continue to sell!” Even during a global pandemic, people need to keep moving forward.  Don’t assume that everyone is struggling.  We need money flowing through the economy, and people need your products/services. Don’t make yourself small or quiet and stop selling.
  13. Liz Windisch, CFP, walked us through how to hire a financial professional and pulled back to the curtain to teach us what different titles mean. Licenses and certifications define titles in the financial industry. They also determine which products/solutions they have to offer you. If you are working with a Financial Representative, an life insurance policy may be their only product. As you describe your situation, life insurance may be their recommendation solution because that’s what in their bag. You may want to work with a Financial Representative, and they are great ones out there; just understand the scope of solutions they can offer you.
  14. Following up on #13, the coaching industry is not very regulatory: Life Coaches, Career Coaches, and Money Coaches. A coach may be what you need for your situation; just make sure you understand why they qualified to help you and have a fiduciary responsibility. Just because someone retired early doesn’t mean they can help on the same path that worked for them.  There are also some incredible licensed professionals like Financial Therapists (LMFT), Behavior Financial Advisor (BFA), Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC), or a Daily Money Manager that may be a better strategy/process to help you.
  15. Pia Beck of Curate Well Co. asked us if we were living in reaction or choice. This was a big mindset question for me that I keep checking in with myself on frequently. I want to live above the line of choice; it’s the best way for me to achieve my goals.
  16. When Katrina Cobb came to talk to us about how she became a digital nomad to change her financial picture, our members took note! While 2020 may not seem like the best year to become a digital nomad, the key takeaway was to look at your budget and reduce the largest buckets (hello housing). We had multiple members change their living situation to achieve their goals of paying off their student loan debt and launching their businesses with more working capital!
  17. Realtor Lu Holland and Lender Michelle Bobart joined us to talk about Mailbox Money (aka Real Estate Investing). You don’t need any special skills to be a real estate investor.  Lu quoted Gary Williams, Co-Founder of Keller Williams, sharing that you need some combination of Time, Money, and Ability to invest in real estate.  You don’t need to be a super whiz at all or any of them.  Lu’s ability is that she’s really organized, has a high level of belief that she can do it, and has done some home improvement projects in the past.
  18. Your bank deposits are the fuel for your bank’s impact.  Your bank impacts the people, places, and industries that get a chance to grow.  Sit with that for a minute.  Whether you have $100 or $100,000 in your bank account, your bank uses that money to invest in people, places, and industries. Do you want a say in how your deposits are being utilized? My mind was blown by how vital banking is, and Sophia Wagner of Mighty Deposits made banking one of my favorite money topics.
  19. Of course, I’ve heard of spending less money than you make.  When Lisa Lewis of Career Clarity taught us about knowing our Financial Runway, it was an excellent way to take more risks in my business confidently.  Your Financial Runway is the amount of money you have today and the date you will run out of money.  Your Financial Runway = Liquefiable Cash Assets/Average Monthly Spending.
  20. Kara Perez of Bravely Go, who has started multiple profitable side hustles, taught us that every goal comes with obligations. As a big goal-getter, I loved this takeaway. There’s a lot of hard work behind achieving big goals. So whether you want to hit a certain revenue number, make your side hustle a full-time hustle, or reach KPIs around social media followers, mailing list subscribers, or customers, there’s an obligation with each of these.  If you want to go from a side hustle to full-time hustle, you need to set up systems to support you.  If you wish to have 10K Instagram followers, you are obligated to reply to every DM.
  21. When prioritizing your budget, make sure it’s most important to you, not others. Maybe quality time with friends is a priority but eating out is not. Instead of going to brunch with friends, go for a walk. Michela Alloca of Break Your Budget encouraged us to make sure our values and budget were aligned.
  22. Money amplifies who you already are. More money can help you be more kind, more selfish, more giving, more greedy, more you. Good people can do good things with their money.  This is one of the most memorable parts of the webinar with Denaye Austad.
  23. Dig into your spending to see if it aligns with your values. Chelsea Brennan of Smart Money Mamas brought in considering Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs; your housing situation is a big-ticket item to examine. Some people value having a bigger house to host guests, have parties, and gatherings.  Does a big home make you feel safe and secure?  A smaller place may be less cleaning and less money, so you could then reallocate cash to your budget to more values-based items like travel, sustainable food, or small businesses.
  24. You will not save your way to retirement, so it’s essential to take on some risk. It’s important to remember that when you are investing, there are things you can control and others you can’t.  You can manage your saving/spending habits, a healthy emergency fund, your level of debt. You can’t control the stock market, tax laws, or completely eliminating risk. Amanda Tullis reminded us to focus on what we can maintain and respect what we can’t control.
  25. If you want to participate in impact investing, you do not have to do this research alone. Sustainable investing is growing rapidly as we are becoming more aware of how we can ‘vote’ with our money. There are many resources (i.e., financial advisors like Lily Beitel-Horton CFP, mutual funds, banks) that are already conducting this research about companies with sustainable practices and gender equity policies. Jenifer Cannon CAP spoke about the Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Leadership Fund that she runs and how they evaluate companies to invest in within the fund as just one example of a fund with a mission to create change.
  26. When you are advancing along your career path, drop those good sound bytes of your awesomeness. Use your check-ins with your boss to remind them of your achievements and use positive language. Everyday Finance Gal shares this, so when your busy boss thinks about you, you have helped them with the narrative they have of you. If you are reminding your boss of your weaknesses, that will be the narrative they use.
  27. When Addie McHale of Moneyfull shared the importance of tracking your Net Worth, she reminded us to treat ourselves and money as you would a dear friend: with respect, compassion, and kindness. Your net worth should not become your self-worth as you are enough just as you are, but your net worth can affect your beliefs about money. Try to work on beliefs about money that don’t serve you.
  28. When developing a debt payment strategy for student loans and commercial debt, understand your terms by organizing your debt and seeing it in one place. Eryn Schultz of pHERsonal Finance Day shared an example of what she uses to list out different student loans, with the terms.  Every lender shares these numbers in various spots on your monthly statement, so it’s great to pull it all together and get it organized in one place.
  29. My business owner friends, don’t forget to pay yourself! Owner pay is NOT your business income or your profits. Instead, you should pay yourself consistently and regularly to ensure your business is viable (and because you’re worth it!). If you’re unsure what to pay yourself, talk to a professional like Terra Jo Vigil.
  30. “When you are an expert, you aren’t competing on price.” When Julie Withrow shared this gem with us, I looked around and saw it to be true. Self-employed friends, lean on your expertise, not your price.
  31. Have you heard that women investors outperform their male counterparts? Cheryl A. Nelson Boyd, CFP®, BFA, talked about how financial planning can look different for women and a reminder that women can be more risk-aware due to asking better questions and doing more research. Take that information, make a strategy, and start investing.
  32. Melanie Ulle of Philanthropy Expert joined us before election season heated up to talk about how to make our vote count.  Posting on social media is not social activism. Do something real with your time, not just social media posts. Host a zoom meetup with a candidate or volunteer to be a surrogate speaker when the candidate is unavailable. Or, if you are able, actually run for office!
  33. Do you know the breakeven number of your business?  Yes, service-based companies have them too! Laura Azzalina Rigali of Illuminate CFO taught us how to calculate this and how it can help you make more intentional business decisions.
  34. Your language around money matters! Instead of “Emergency Fund,” try “Security Fund.” Change the names of your accounts to reflect your goals using positive language. I love this money tip from Amy Bradbury of Empowered Profit.
  35. Liz Windisch, CFP drop a real truth bomb on us. If you have money out there that you aren’t paying attention to, it’s not working for you. Now is the time to dust off those old 401(k)s that you are not paying attention to (and paying fees on) and consolidate them into accounts that have your attention.
  36. When Kimberly B. Cummings of Manifest Yourself talked to us about negotiation, she gave us a fantastic tip: Never accept an offer when called from a prospective employer; indicate you need to view the full package (including benefits) before agreeing to a salary. Give yourself a beat to review the complete package and negotiate it.  The first salary offer is typically not the best they can do.
  37. Dr. Krystyna Holland of Inclusive Care walked us through the financial side of health insurance and recommended researching and taking advantage of Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA).  There are nuanced details around both, so do your research and then make the best choices for you. 
  38. If you own anything in your name (401(k), car, bank accounts), then you have an estate! Quiet those assumptions that you don’t have enough for an estate plan and talk to an Estate Planning Attorney like Jala Eaton Esq., CTFA of On My Own Financial.
  39. Reframe your mindset about selling.  Jaime Rowe is a Revenue Growth coach that walked us through The Confidence Trifecta of mindset, process, and tools to help you nail the sale and celebrate those successes.
  40. So much financial planning focuses on long-range planning.  While you’re doing that, make sure you also have something to help you every year, like tax planning! Tax planning is an excellent combination of long-term planning and immediate action. Annelise Bretthauer CFP®, CDFA®, M.B.A. even shared the special 2020 tax deduction for cash-based donations.
  41.  Yes, funeral planning is a money topic, and talking about death won’t kill you (and can save you a lot of money).  Paying for your funeral gives you today’s prices, even if your funeral isn’t for a few decades.  Jamie Sarche led a fantastic death discussion with us.
  42. Are money conversations anxiety-inducing for you? Kimberly Polsen and Jenna Lee Mathews from The Matchstick Collective lead some practice exercises in money conversations to better listen to our bodies to understand if it’s a yes, no, or maybe boundary for us to have a healthy money conversation.
  43. Do you ever feel like you are late to the party? Or you’re shoulding all over yourself?  I should have bought real estate earlier.  Stephanie Vail, Denver Realtor, confirmed we are not late! We are on our own personal financial journeys.  Build your A-Team, do the research, and do whatever works best for you!
  44. Jordan Youngblade Pendleton talked to us about having an abundant mindset.  What you value is where you are going. Money is merely earning, spending, and investing. If you take a close look at how these things interact in your life, you’ll get a clear picture of what you value. If you don’t like where you’re heading, you can change that by changing how you earn, spend, and invest.
  45. Are you ready to do some research on where your investments are currently invested?  Two Websites to research if your investments align with your values. https://investigate.afsc.org/ and http://www.asyousow.org/invest-your-values After learning more about where her assets were, Monica Meng and her partner started Good Capital Investment Group to take a more active role in their investments.
  46. Michelle Atlas PCC guided us through an assessment to learn our sacred Money Archetypes and shared how knowing this information can help you to find your way to manage money. That will enable you to feel comfortable growing your money and your business.
  47. This year, The Pledgettes, and Nav.it partnered on a 6-week course, Nav.igating Confident Money Moves. Maia Monell shared how to evolve your money mindset: celebrate what you’ve already achieved and find the perfect money mantra for you.
  48. What would you do if you won the lottery? It is a great question to start thinking about your big financial goals!  You know you have an answer. So jump in and make a plan for how to make that happen without winning the Powerball.
  49. Ask questions, so you know how Financial Products and Services make money.  It’s not rude to ask; they are businesses and make money.  Knowing that information can help you make an informed decision. There are reliable resources out there like Pledgettes partner, The Ascent.
  50. There is not one all-knowing money expert. Each expert has their favorite topics, unique education and experience, and preferred strategies to build wealth.  Listen to different voices and perspectives and make the best decision for you!
  51. Having a community of women to celebrate financial success and progress is powerful. I’m so impressed and grateful for the Pledgettes.  Each member has unique goals and working on different things.
  52. Achieving your financial goals doesn’t have to be a solo sport (who decided that anyway?). Have money conversations, build your Financial A-Team, ask questions, and take an active role in your finances.

Thank you again to the incredible experts who lead our weekly programming in 2020! Thank you to our awesome members that show up and take active roles in their personal finances. Thank you to everyone who helped me on my financial journey, teaching me new things, and questioning the shoulds.  This is just the start. My curiosity for more knowledge, more perspectives, and more ways of building wealth is real. I’m so excited for 2021 and beyond!

Wishing you an abundant 2021!

Jenn Uhen

Founder, The Pledgettes

 

 

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