What Is Your Money Story?


Picture-35Last night I got some candid financial wisdom and investment inspiration from a panel of women, financial gurus  and investors…who each learned a few things about money in their twenties.

Money (Be Not Afraid) was sponsored by The Li.st. Featuring Jane Barratt, Amanda Clayman, Natalia Oberti Noguera, and Adaora Udoji, the panel addressed how to overcome financial fears and get started on a financial path forward…all in an actionable, high value and fun discussion.

A few money stories:

Amanda Clayton built up $19,000 in debt when she moved to New York and started her career. She put all her savings into rent and more than her paychecks into living the life the marketing companies she worked told her she needed. Triggered by what she calls her “$19,000 haircut” (bounced check to the hairdresser, bad mullet, coming clean to Mom – full story worth a read here), she went on a budget, stopped equating carelessness with money with freedom…and became a financial therapist.

She got herself out of debt and now helps others do the same…find financial balance. She says to start by focusing on the stress. It’s only when we start feeling stressed that we pay attention to our money. It’s a signal that something is not working. Rather than react to the stress..first get the stress level down so you can address the issues. Her four-step process (G.A.D.A).

gather info –> analyze info –> decide –> act

(and follow through steps again)

You have to slow down to pay attention and break down the four parts.

When Natalia Oberti Noguera signed up for a promotion to win an exotic trip in college, she learned early on that sometimes you have to jump ship. She had earned half the trip but was just getting deeper and deeper into debt trying to get the trip. Her mom (notice a trend here?) finally told her to forget it…sometimes you have to accept a sunk cost to get you out of a hole. She gave up on the trip and accepted her loss. What she won’t accept is the lack of diversity in the VC / investment world.

She founded Pipeline Fellowship, an angel investing bootcamp for women that’s “changing the face of angel investing and creating capital for women social entrepreneurs.” Her program offers education, mentoring and practical experiences to train women angels. Her motivation? “There are enough white guys investing in other white guys.”  Especially as she points out, “There are so many places you can support an ecosystem of women entrepreneurs with how you spend your money and invest.”

Adaora Udoji is a graduate of the Pipeline Fellowship. She started her professional life as a would-be tax lawyer, became a journalist and is now an advisor, mentor and angel investor.

She advises that you have to start somewhere, so keep it simple and come to a decision that managing money is important. Her pet peeve, as a woman who has no interest in shopping or stereotypes…is the all too common question, “So do you invest in fashion or philanthropy?”

Like Amanda, Jane Barratt, an ex-advertising exec and now founder of Vested Interest also got her financial perspective from working in marketing and advertising. She found that is is not so much about creating great ads, it’s about creating shareholder wealth (e.g. a white guy in Connecticut)…or as she says, “Someone is getting rich here and it’s not us.”

That led to the idea behind Vi (Vested Interest Co.). Vi believes that with the right knowledge and tools, anyone can be a confident investor, and that the best way to learn is by doing. Vi encourages buying shares in companies that you know and trust (after assessing whether they are good investment options or not) is a great way to start investing

This approach was also influenced by her ad days where she learned that there is something about the brands and products you love…their stories are often what can drive satisfying investment.

Vi is launching soon so you will be able to sign up to get education and support

To begin though, Jane told us to just focus on one thing to start. Where we need the most help?  The biggest issue is stasis…not doing anything year after year. The apps can be overwhelming and geared to those already investing. Mutual Fund costs can erode up to 2/3 of your gains over a lifetime of investments. So start by learning the language. Then you know what to ask for when talking to an advisor. Use the resources you have…you spend a lot in fees at the bank, ask them how they can help you with budgeting.

The take away from all..start small but start now.

Thank you The Li.st and Knoll…great space, food and wine!

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