On Saturday, February 4, Price Women & Allies hosted Femme Financials, a financial management seminar geared towards women, trans, and non-conforming individuals. The seminar featured four impressive speakers who covered a range of important financial topics, including budgeting, investing, philanthropy, and negotiating. Below are some highlights, which we thought were particularly informative from each speaker.
Budgeting and Planning for the Future
Speaking on the importance of budgeting and planning for the future was Courtney Smith, a USC alumna and owner of Courtney + Kurt, a residential real estate firm. She offered the following advice:
- Identify and follow your financial values, such as establishing security for the future and becoming financially independent.
- Develop a system of habits which forces you to live within your means and prepare for the unknown.
- Build up a savings account with 6 months of living expenses in the case of an emergency or major life change.
- Use the “envelope” method. Set a budget for the month, and set aside envelopes for each spending category with the designated amount of cash in them. Only use what is provided in the envelopes. Do this for 3 months to establish financially healthy habits.
- Don’t just pay the minimum balance for your credit cards and student loans. Pay off whole balance of your credits cards each month. If in debt, pay off the cards with the highest interest rates first. Make sure you are paying the real payment necessary for your student loans to not accrue additional interest.
- Consider purchasing income properties rather than buying a home.
Impactful Investing and Responsible Spending
Malaika Maphalala, CPWA, a private wealth advisor at Natural Investments, a SEC registered investment advisory firm specializing in socially responsible investing, discussed how to utilize impactful investing and responsible spending. Malaika suggested that:
- Once you accrue around $30,000 in investible funds, seek the help of a professional.
- When seeking a financial advisor, trust your questions, and keep asking them until you get answers that are satisfactory.
- Seek a financial advisor that has a fiduciary duty to their clients; that is a fee or percentage-based advisor and not a stock broker who works on commission.
- You should make socially responsible investments, because money has power.
- Practice shareholder activism and invest in ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) Funds, such as Parnassus Endeavor Fund or Green Century Fund, which invest in sustainable companies and address ethical risks.
- Divestment can be a key strategy for change. Make sure you invest in socially responsible banks, such as Beneficial State Banks.
- Make sure you plan for the future with retirement accounts and understand the difference between employment-based 401(k) accounts (which make pre-tax contributions), traditional IRA accounts (which are pre-tax contributions), and Roth IRA accounts (which are post-tax contributions).
Heading up our discussion on philanthropy and how to give back was Farrah Aziz, a USC alumna who now works as a private nonprofit and philanthropy advisor at her company Give Great Group. Farrah recommended that young women:
- Consider forming Giving Circles with your friends to give more power to your smaller gifts.
- When determining which charity to donate to, look at how long the CEO has been with the company. Serving too long or too short can be a bad sign.
- Look at the composition of the organization’s boards, including the relevance of members and donation participation rates. Also look at how organizations leverage a dollar in donations.
- Look at Jezebel’s Progressive Cause List, which provides information on pro-woman, pro-immigrant, and pro-earth organizations.
- Impact investing is a way to give back before you feel ready to outright donate.
- Be a socially responsible purchaser, utilize websites such as Amazon Smile, which make donations with each purchase. Learn about companies’ corporate social responsibility programs to make sure they align with your values.
- Volunteer your time when you don’t have enough money to donate. Consider volunteering with friends to incorporate giving into your social live, such as by coordinating a day with the Do Good Bus.
Gaurav Valani, a professional career coach at Career Sprout and General Assembly, detailed specific steps on how to negotiate your salary more successfully. He explained that:
Before the negotiation process starts, make sure to build a network with your target audience. Connect with people who work at your companies of interest on LinkedIn and send introductory e-mails expressing your interest in their experience and learning about any openings.
- The negotiation begins when you are conducting your outreach. Be sure you communicate with people in the company who have the power to approve your salary.
- During the interview, don’t be nervous and don’t brag. Instead, focus on making the interviewer feel special.
- Begin your interview with the question: “What was it about my resume or background that made you decide to bring me in today?”
- Ask when you will hear from the company after the interview, and if it’s okay for you to follow up with them after a certain date if you have not received any news.
- Research the market salary for your desired job title using salary.com, glassdoor.com, payscale.com and jobscale.com so that you know your worth.
- Give your desired salary first to begin negotiations at your level. Be sure to give a specific number, not a range, based on your research.
- If the interviewer asks about your salary history, tell them that “the jobs I’m being considered for now pay between X and Y.” If they press you, you can tell them your previous salary, but be sure to tell them that you were not being paid at fair market value.
For those interested in additional information on the topics above, our speakers offered a couple of book recommendations.
- From Courtney: The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, which offers transformative advice on how to think about your personal finances.
- From Malaika: The Resilient Investor by Brill, Kramer, and Peck, which explains how to diversify your assets to better reach your financial goals.
- From Farrah: Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Yunus, which discusses the power of microfinance as a tool to eradicate poverty.
The event was generously sponsored by Veretta Everheart, Chief Management Analyst at LA Sanitation and two-time USC alumna. It is support like hers that allows us to hold trainings such as these. We also want to thank all of the women who attended our event.