Let's Talk About Money

A couple of days ago, I was at an event that was sponsored by Zelle and Her Campus at Stacks House in Downtown Los Angeles. There were very many instagrammable photo ops.

Me in an infinity mirror room with money:

I also attended a panel where we were given advice on how to handle money after graduating college. Here are some of the takeaways.

  1. Asking for a raise?

    • Start advocating for yourself  because no one else will do it

    • Do not think that "my work will shine for itself“. One of the panelists told a story about her time working in a male-dominated office: All the men came into the of

  2. How do you advocate for yourself without bragging?

    • It’s a challenge, but schedule check ins with a boss is a good start. It’s like a status update and reduces the “bragginess”. A lot of times if you don’t speak up for yourself, others will get promotion even if you work hard.

  3. Financial advice

    • Buy fewer things. You don’t need as much as you think you need.

    • You should reward yourself, but the women on the panel realized that their younger selves spent a lot of money on things they did not actually need. Establish a habit on what to save and what to spend. Don’t let it spiral out of control.

  4. Invest early and save.

    • You need to save. You need to invest. At your first job, when you suddenly make more money than ever before, don’t think going from $0 to $18 is a lot.

    • When you’re young, you don’t know the system. Investing is an inherent risk, but you have to trust that over time things will work out!

    • Check for a Roth RIA. Contribute to it once you make money. Pay with after tax dollars. Withdraw money tax free. Once you make certain certain amount of money, you can’t do this anymore. Within in do an index fund.

    • Just do a bit at a time.

    • Check employer benefits. 401k?

  5. On finding the right stocks to invest in:

    • Book recommendation: “Broke millennial takes on investing“.

    • Index fund? Fund that tracks an Index like US stock market. It does well or if not better than a bunch of stocks. Over decades, market had good and bad years. Don’t worry about picking stocks. Women are better investors than men because we are not thrill seekers. We plan things out. We set it. Forget it, nurture it. Men do fine in market but women are not risky - not being risky is sometimes healthy. You have what it takes! Don’t focus on individual stocks. Focus on bundle of stocks or index market. When you have more money to play with and you have a stomach for risk, then okay - but you need to be ready to lose it. You have to be okay with losing money. Big risk - big reward. Or big loss.

    • There’s fewer winners than losers. Make saving automatic. You don’t need to necessarily budget but take care of boring stuff first (retirement, saving, insurance). Whatever is left, you can spend. 10% of paycheck should go into future. Get to place where you have savings for 3-6 months. What if you lost job and had to pay rent for 1 months? Multiply by 5!

  6. Is an MBA worth it?

    • One panelist mentioned: “I needed a stamp from Stanford on my resume. I felt like I needed an MBA to get street cred. But it’s definitely not always necessary. Is it something required for the jobs I want? If it’s not needed for your job and you don’t need that stamp, think about it. It is pricey.”

    • Another one shared: “It depends on your goals. How does an MBA fit in with your job? Some jobs would rather see real life experience. Other of my friends have gotten sponsored MBAs. They got it for free. It’s a personal decision and depends on your career goals.”

  7. How do you handle student loans?

    • How much and what is your monthly payment when you graduate? Get real with numbers. Get on scheduled payment! Never ever miss payment. Good thing: term loan. It’s got a schedule. Stay with it. Put minimum toward student loan and with rest of money, play with it. Invest. Spend. It’s a process. Pay minus the wet. Don’t spend more than you need.

  8. How does one handle the social pressure to spend money?

    • Plan it out for weekend and make plans help to keep each other accountable. Talk to at least one other person to make decisions with. Get yourself a Money buddy!

    • After college, attending weddings and bachelorettes can add up. You need to be honest. Tell your friend that you can’t go to their bachelorette party but that you would love to do a 1:1. Suggest something in your budget (go to wedding but not bachelorette party). Girls night in for bachelorette could be great to - do not have go out and not spend a lot of money. Cut up evening and don’t feel like you need to go to every club and every party.

    • Another way one of the panelists friends used to save money was to only come to dinner for dessert.

  9. How do you learn to feel comfortable about money? How to ask for raise?

    • Open up to your girlfriends about insecurities. All we want is to break the ice. Everyone wants to feel relieved that they are not alone!! Dedicate a girl‘s night in to talk about money. Do it with people you Trust. Bring men into conversation. Practice in front of mirror.

    • Especially when preparing to ask for a raise, talk to your friends that are managers and see what puts them off. Then keep on practicing.

    • Sometime we feel awkward because we don’t know how other person feels but manager will know this conversation - they have done it before. Go in with preparing. Do research. It’s a conversation. It’s not a script. Manager might not say yes right away. It’ll be Conversation. It’s not awkward  because boss has heard it a million times.

  10. Summary

    • Be your biggest advocate.

    • Find a money buddy.

    • Be honest with friends where you are with money situation.

    • Know your numbers (student loans debt. Get real with it before you graduate).

    • Boomerang to live with your parents again can be smart after college.

    • Masters degree? Not always worth it.

These were the main questions that were being discussed and the answers I was able to write down. I thought that the panel was highly interesting and I hope you learned something from it as well!