5 Types of People You Need on Your Financial A-Team

You don’t need to go on your personal financial journey alone. What if you built out your Financial A-Team with the same intentionality as you have with your professional networks. Here are five types of people you should have on your Financial A-Team to help you go further and have more fun!

“To go fast, go alone. To go far, go together.”

1 – Growth Partners

Who are they? Well, it depends on your goals. These licensed professionals are the closest to your goals with strategies to get you there.  With the right education and experience, they are trusted fiduciaries who know your goals and your personal economy.  It’s time to be transparent with your current financial situation and your future goals, so these experts can provide the most help and value to you. 

What do they do?
Ask the right questions to gain clarity on your goals.
– Analyze and understand your current financial state.
– Offer specific advice based on their expertise, your financial state, and your goals.
– Layout a path to work towards.

2 – Connectors

Who are they? Yes, you know one or two or three connectors.  Seek out your outgoing friend who doesn’t believe that money is a taboo topic. Connectors aren’t qualified to give you professional advice, but they are well-connected.  They have circles full of professionals and love nothing more than connecting future business partners.  Connectors are in know and love to read, learn, and listen.  They are probably already making money moves and would be happy to share their favorite book, podcast, or articles.

What do they do?
– They can help, not advise.
– They can help you determine which Growth Partners you need.
– They can make connections or brainstorm how to make those connections.
– They either have a direct connection or a place for you to start searching for your growth partners.

3 – Mentors & Mentees

Who are they?  You have seen how having professional mentors and mentees have helped you flourish in your career.  Find people who are 10-Steps ahead of you and 10-Steps behind you financially.  Did you hear that your professional mentor also invests in real estate?  Start asking some questions about how they started.  What do you wish you knew as a recent college grad?  Find an early professional and start a conversation about money.  With all money conversations, I liken having money conversations to peeling back the layers of the onion.  Start small and safe on the outer edges of the onion/money topics, then peel back a few layers with every conversation.

What do they do?
– They inspire and motivate.
– They change the world.

4 – High-Five Tribe

Who are they? These are those friends that you don’t have to say much for them to get it. You don’t have to be on the same financial journey because it’s not a competition. Your financial success doesn’t mean their financial loss.  Everyone can achieve financial success and everyone may be working on different goals.

What do they do?
– They cheer the loudest!
– Have you achieved a goal, hit a milestone, or taken the first step.  It’s time to celebrate.
– They know your shortcode. Just signed a new SOW? Maxed out your 401(k)? Increased your paper assets?

5 – Diverse Thinkers

Who are they? They were the early adopters of online banks, taking risks on cryptocurrency or reading about Sacred Economics.  Diverse Thinkers fascinate me.  I’m certainly don’t agree with everything they are doing/saying but I don’t have to follow in their footsteps.  I recently had a conversation with someone who was reading Sacred Economics and went down a big rabbit hole learning about it, mathematically, I can’t get it to workout.  But I learn about different perspectives and it helps me have better money conversations.

What do they do?
– They educate (maybe indirectly).
– They test the waters.

I’m confident that if you have these five types of people on your Financial A-Team, you are well on your way to achieving your financial goals and having fun along the journey.  Who do you have on your A-Team now and who do you need to add?  Use this worksheet, The Pledgettes_Financial_A-Team, to help build out your Financial A-Team by adding where you need and removing where you don’t.

If you have someone on your Financial A-Team currently who makes you feel shame or guilt about your money, it’s time to give them the boot. If you have someone who is not supportive of your goals and actively helping you achieve them, consider if they belong on your A-Team. Find the balance on your team of the High-Five Tribe and the Diverse Thinkers.  Find the right Growth Partners and Connectors getting you closer to your dreams and goals.  Learn and share with your Mentors and Mentees.  Having this well-round Financial A-Team will lift us all up as we go along on personal financial journeys.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tools to Align Your Money to Your Values

Are you a conscious consumer or favor impact investing? The increased attention to the power you have in where your money is and how it’s being used is awesome. Here are a few tools to help you use your money in alignment with your values.

In this review of your finances, remember they you are on your own personal financial journey. You need to define your values and prioritize how they show up for you.

First, it starts with understanding your values.

What are your values?

Jacki Carr has a great Values Deck where you spread them out on a table and start prioritizing your values.

Some of my highest values are Autonomy, Curiosity, and Equality. One way I live my values is with The Pledgettes. I created this community to improve women’s relationships with their money, clarify their financial goals, and confidently make money moves.

Now that you have your values, let’s look at where your money is and how your values can show up in your Spending, Banking, and Investing.

Where is your money?

Using a Personal Financial Management tool can help you aggregate all your accounts into one place. I love having money dates or State of Our Union money meeting with my partner and weekly Business Health Check-Ins for my business.

Using a tool like Nav.it or YNAB can help you have informed check-ins. I love the daily Money Mindset check-in with Nav.it and seeing how other Nav.igators are feeling about their money each day.

If you want to get more depth down the penny and use Zero Based Budgeting, You Need A Budget is a great tool.

Are you a conscious spender?

Take a look at your last three months of your bank and credit card statements.  Highlight each expense that aligned with your values.  Review the items you didn’t highlight. What story does your spending tell?

Are you supporting local business or looking for the lowest price, most convenient option? (No wrong answers, these are choices you get to make).  Do you look for sustainable products and packaging?  Are you shopping at women-owned or BIPOC-owned businesses?

Your consumer dollars have considerable power, where and how you shop matters.

How is your bank using your money?

Sophia Wagner of Mighty Deposits shared, “Your deposits are the fuels that banks use to determine which people, projects, and industries get funded.”

I looked up my bank, and found a new bank, via MightyDeposits.com where I could look at how much money my bank was keeping in my community.  Mighty Deposits is a great source for finding a values-aligned bank.  As you make money moves, you’ll need to make choices considering your values, emotions, and finances.

You can also look into banks that participate in the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, “an independent network of banks using finance to deliver sustainable economic, social, and environmental development.”

Where are your investments?

Whether you are invested in your company’s 401(k) plan or invest on your own, there are ways you can align your investments to your values.

You could work with specialized firms that work in Impact and Sustainable Investments, like Align Impact and Good Capital Investment Group.

If your investments are in funds (with multiple stocks), look at the biggest stocks in your fund and research those stocks on Morningstar, As You Sow, or The American Friends Service Committee.

If your company doesn’t have an ERG, Sustainable, or Impact Fund option, work with your HR Benefits Manager to get more options through your financial service provider.  The more they hear feedback for more options, the greater chance you’ll see those options.

Be cautious of greenwashing in your investments.  Not all ESG funds are the same, so do the research on the businesses within the fund. A recent CNBC article did a deeper dive about it.

Where should you start?

That’s up to you!  It’s your personal financial journey. I encourage you to do some research, clarify your goals and values, understand your current financial situation, and make the right money moves for you.

Having conversations with family and friends is awesome.  It’s a great way to get ideas and learn from others but make sure you are doing your own research for your personal finances. Be sure you are using reputable sources like  The Ascent by The Motley Fool which has great articles and reviews.

If you are looking for ways to take an active role in your finances, consider joining The Pledgettes, a community for women to talk about money.  Check out our membership options to become a Pledgettes or attend an upcoming event.

This is not financial advice. This blog serves to guide you to ways you can take an active role in your financials and have an intentional relationship with your money. The Pledgettes is a community for women to talk about money.

52 Things I Learned About Money in 2020

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

 

 

3 Things That Made My Transition To Freelance Easier

Before I get to how my transition to freelance was easier than most, I’ll step up on my soapbox. My first tip to anyone who is considering going freelance (or take any risk in your career) is to build up your Freedom (or FU) Fund. At its baseline, money is choice.  If you have $1, you can: spend it, save it, invest it, or donate it.  You have the choice of how to use your money.  At the next level, money is freedom.  When you have a freedom fund, you can leave a toxic job, relationship, or lifestyle.  You have the freedom to take more financial risks. Okay, onto freelancing!

In February 2017, I made the official leap from full-time employment to the freelance life.  Here are three things that made that transition easier.

1 – I turned my last full-time job into my first client.
I loved my last full-time job.  I wanted to keep my clients but work half the time.  It turned out to be a win-win for my agency and me.  My biggest client was about a year out of retirement (or commencement as he liked to call it).  I would stay on that project and spend the next year transitioning all my other projects. It gave me predictable income and very little admin, like onboarding a new client.

2 – I hired a career coach.
Investing in a career coach, Katy Flatau, was scary at first (it was a big commitment and a good chunk of change as I was reducing my income) but it one of my best investments. Katy’s positive energy was a perfect balance to fear. Katy encouraged me to emotionally disconnect and leave on incredible terms. Katy also led a March webinar for us, Dream Bigger: Your 10-Year Career Strategy.

3 – I surrounded myself with other freelancers.
I quickly found some great mentors, threw myself into planning Freelance Business Week, and joined communities like The Riveter, RISE, TARRA, and Denver Marketing Mavens.

One thing that I wished I had more help with was understanding my numbers as a self-employed woman.  I feel like it’s something that I will always be improving and learning.  This is why The Pledgettes is committed to hosting events specific to the self-employed woman.  Head over to our events page and check out our upcoming events and join us!

Way more of a career path than climbing a ladder

My first job out of college was my dream job!  I worked in the music industry doing artist management and marketing.  I thought I would be in this job forever.  I thought I would work with my coworkers forever; this mindset maybe my biggest career mistake.

During my tenure with this company, I didn’t expand my network at all.  I was actually invited to a “Women in the Music Industry” networking group.  I didn’t feel like I belonged, everyone was at least a few years ahead of me in their careers and I didn’t believe I had much value to give.  I also depended fully on my manager to carve out a career path for me.

I loved the company that I worked for and the people that I worked with.  I had so much autonomy and was able to create the position I wanted.  I was developing skills and gaining experience at this small company that my peers at large companies weren’t getting opportunities to.

Then, at age 27, I was burnt out.  My dream job wasn’t going to be a forever job.  I quit without having another job.  When I quit, the CEO asked what I was going to do.  I didn’t know.  He gave me some books advice, and my last bonus: told me to travel and figure it out.  I didn’t want to travel; I needed to find a new job.

I was unemployed for about three months (side note: nobody has ever asked me about the breaks in my career when interviewing for new jobs).  The first month I was antsy.  And I had quite a bit of free time to blame others for my unhappiness in my job.  The anger then turned to fear that I wasn’t going to be able to figure out what to do next, I wasn’t going to get a job with a good salary, I wasn’t going to be able to pay my mortgage.  It sucked, it was scary.

I did find a great next job that was so different from my first job but also allowed me to use my skills and experience. After that almost two years in that job, I took 7 months off to live in Peru and work for a non-profit.  I loved the digital nomad life and would love to do it again!  Returning the state and full-time work, I came up with a few dream jobs.  I printed off job descriptions and looked at the network, skills, and experience I would need to be an executive director at a non-profit.  I worked towards that goal for a couple of years and while that’s not my dream job anymore, I was grateful I had that north star.  The network, skills, and experience effort I put in at that time made me into the person I am supposed to be at this moment.

I never dreamed that I would be a freelancer, a business owner, a side hustler, an entrepreneur, or a founder.  But here I am, learning, growing, and dreaming bigger about what’s next.

What are your dreams for your career?

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou

At The Pledgettes…

We believe Black Lives Matter.
We believe there are inequitable systems that must be changed.
We believe the racial wealth gap needs action by everyone to improve.
We believe the gender wealth gap includes every womxn and we are committed to taking action to change it.

We are committed to a wide array of programming to meet womxn where they are on their personal financial journey and share diverse perspectives on money with: budgeting, estate planning, negotiation, investing, and more.
We are committed to continuing to learn about the inequitable systems and using our voice to talk about them.

We are a community of supportive womxn making money moves to achieve individual financial wealth goals.

This Maya Angelou quotes repeats in my head over and over.  I launched this community for women (yup, -en) and was asked, “Is this for women or womxn?” I didn’t know what womxn meant. When I learned, the answer was easy. The Pledgettes was (and is) for womxn.  The gender wealth gap is not only for cisgender women.  *UPDATE* When I had ongoing conversations, I learned that womxn was also a term that makes some feel excluded, so we went back to women.

When I created my branding for The Pledgettes, I used the same colors as my coaching business, switching the primary and secondary colors. Dusty rose, anyone else? My pinky promise icon was an emerald green circle with dusty rose hands. We went with dusty rose hands and I received a few comments about it. “Is this just for white womxn?” No, The Pledgettes is for every womxn.  We have updated our pinky promise hands to represent multiple flesh tones.

I’ve said in the past that I’m first a champion for the individual womxn who wants to improve her relationship with money, increase her financial literacy, and achieve her wealth goals. Secondarily, I will advocate for change: listen to multiple perspectives, call out certain policies, share what I learn, and talk to my elected officials. In conversations and research over the past week, it’s clear that there is a difference between enacting a law and enforcing a law.  We must hold our officials accountable to both.

Finally, I’m here to be better. Since launching The Pledgettes it is this community that pushes me to be better. I appreciate everyone who is helping me do better. Want to talk more? Send me a message.

– Jenn Uhen, Founder of The Pledgettes

Why I’m remaining financially confident during a global pandemic

Experts say that about every 10 years, there is a disruptive market event (the World Trade Center bombing in 2001, the housing crash of 2008/2009, and the global pandemic we’re in now).  I remain financially confident because I’ve been through a couple of these…and other “financial fails” to know that I won’t be defeated by any market event.

In 2007, I thought I was ready to upgrade from my starter condo.  I wanted a cool loft, closer to my job.  I wanted a new neighborhood and a new scene.  I called my mortgage broker (he was definitely on my Financial A-Team in Chicago).  He said, “I don’t recommend you buy anything over $250k but the craziest thing is that I could get you qualified for a loan for $417k!” Yes, that was crazy and I didn’t take it.

A few months later, I quit my job.  It was my first job out of college and my dream job where I thought I would work forever.  I quit without having a new job.

I was unemployed for about three months (side note: nobody has ever asked me about the breaks in my career when interviewing for new jobs).  The first month I was antsy.  And I had quite a bit of free time to blame others for my unhappiness in my job.  The anger then turned to fear that I wasn’t going to be able to figure out what to do next, I wasn’t going to get a job with a good salary, I wasn’t going to be able to pay my mortgage.  It sucked, it was scary.

I did find a great next job that was so different from my first job but also allowed me to use my skills and experience.

I also sold my starter condo and bought another property in June 2008.  A brand new townhouse in a new subdivision in the burbs for $259k with 5% down.  It was an upgrade and I was living large.

In 2009, I went on a mission trip to Peru.  It was my second trip there.  I loved being there and the work they were doing.  While I was down there, they asked if I would move to Peru and work with them.  It was the chance of a lifetime and I wanted to make it work.  I had to sell my townhouse and the market was softening.  It took me two months, a $30k price drop, and I had to bring $5k to closing.  I was completely stressing out.  Real estate was supposed to be this solid investment (and I do believe that it is a solid long-term investment).  I was competing against a developer selling brand new townhouses, the auto industry was going through bankruptcy, and the housing market hadn’t recovered.  I took the hit and brought $5k to closing.  And left to go work at a non-profit in Peru for 7 months at the beginning of 2010.

I also remember seeing my 401(k) drop in half from $39k to $21k.

So…unemployment, a retirement account that was decimated, and a loss in real estate.  It was scary and stressful.  But looking back, I learned great lessons.  I was also appreciative to have that lesson in my 20s instead of in my 50s or 60s.  I knew I would have the time to rebound.  I would make money back in real estate (I definitely have), I would build back my retirement accounts (I have).  I would get more jobs with better pay and greater responsibilities (that happened too).  I felt confident I was smart enough and had enough time to still hit my retirement goals.

Now, in 2020, my retirement goals are bigger and sooner.  And, if you look at my memo from last month, you’ll see what hit me in the first week of shelter in place (from the immediate loss of income to a real estate transaction in limbo).  I’m confident I’m going to get through this.  We all are going to get through this.  I’ve been through a recession before.  I learned lessons and was better prepared for this one.  I am going to keep learning and be even more prepared for future market events and confidently go through them with my solid emergency fund, money mantras about being a long-term investor, and confidence that I can make the right money moves at the right time for me.

Do you remember the recession of 2008 and want to share your experience?  Drop a comment below.  Anytime you were out of work for a while and bounced back?  Any other scary financial challenges you have overcome?  Sharing our experiences is powerful.

My current financial journey & predictions

The Pledgettes community was built to share, learn, and grow.  With these uncertain times, I felt it would be appropriate to share my current financial situation. Sharing may help others not feel as alone.  Sharing may help you feel a weight lifted off your shoulders.  After I share my situation, I’m going to share a few predictions (nobody really knows) about some possibilities for the near future.

Life felt normal enough last Wednesday.  My partner and I were planning a 5-day trip to Chicago and we were in the camp of “don’t let fear-mongering change your life.”  Wednesday night, the news stories continued and we thought there was a 90% chance we were going to Chicago. Then Thursday morning a 50% chance.  We considered driving to Chicago. A few hours before our flight we canceled our trip.

CDC Recommendations for events went from 1000 attendees to 250 attendees to 50 attendees to 10 attendees over the weekend.  I knew I had to change The Pledgettes business model for the next few months and began working with speakers to move to webinars and start working on more webinar topics.

As most of you know, The Pledgettes is not my only project. Here’s where I’m at with the rest of my life.

REAL ESTATE: On 3/10, we accepted an offer on our townhouse that my partner and I are currently living in.  The close date is 4/17.  It’s a cash buyer and we are confident they are still moving forward.  So hopefully, as long as we are not in a shelter-in-place, that will move forward.

Our other two properties we are working through contingency choices if our tenants can’t pay rent.  What does that look like?  How long can we go?

FREELANCE WORK: I do work in the events industry and my partner does work in restaurant accounting and finance consulting.  Our projects ended or were put on indefinite hold until we get on the other side of this.  This was the majority of our income and it was gone overnight.

RESTAURANT: Yes, we own a restaurant.  We are grateful that we have incredible employees.  We shared the profits in the good times with them and hope they will stick it out in the rough times with us.  We hope we can hold on for a while and keep our employees.

RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS: I already had a pretty conservative risk tolerance so mine is not dropping as significantly as others.  A Pledgettes member shared her manta is “I am a long term investor.”  The recent gains we’ve had over the last couple of years were far above average.  And whether it was coronavirus, Saudi/Russia oil, or another factor, it wasn’t going to remain at that level.  It’s frustrating to see such a drastic drop.  While, nobody has a crystal ball, most historical data says to keep investing (but also don’t invest more than you are willing to lose) because the marketing should return.

EMERGENCY FUND: I’m grateful to have an emergency fund since our income is near $0 right now.  And if ever there was an emergency…this is it.  While it’s hard to take money from an emergency fund, this is what it’s for.  We’ll only take what we need and get to our “ramen budget.”  What’s the least we can live on right now?

SIDE HUSTLES: My partner and I started shopping/delivering for Instacart, doordash, Postmates, and Shipt.  At least we’ll have so money coming in.  I feel pretty safe and as soon as we come home, we shower, change our clothes, and start a load of laundry.

NOW….PREDICTIONS.

This is an unprecedented downturn.  In 2008, the recession impacted the stock market and the housing market.  Everyday life continued close to normal.  This is hitting everyone at the same time.  Everyday life is disrupted drastically.  There is talk of stimulus checks.  I do believe those are coming.  There are banks and creditors providing relief, I anticipate seeing more of that.  We’ll need to work together as a community, do our best to keep money flowing through the economy and helping each other out.  If you need help, ask.  If you need essentials like medicine or toilet paper, ask.  Someone has some to share.  If you need financial support, post a Member Question and we can all share resources we’ve heard about.

Information is being shared hourly.  There are always more updates.  Nobody knows how to navigate this perfectly or has a crystal ball to see the future.  Take care of yourself, your family, and your community.  Try to stress less and act more.  And please turn to this community for help or venting or support.  We will make it through this.

– Jenn