Money Expert Tori Dunlap: This Is the No. 1 Thing To Do To Build Wealth for Retirement
Tori Dunlap is a money and career expert, and host of the “Financial Feminist” podcast. Dunlap founded Her First $100K after saving up $100K and quitting her corporate job — all by the age of 25. She fights financial inequality by empowering women to reach financial success, and has helped more than 2 million women navigate debt, saving, investing and more.
Recognized by GOBankingRates as one of Money’s Most Influential, here she shares why she wants to remove the shame that often surrounds money, why all women should be investing and why it’s OK to buy the avocado toast.
What’s the one piece of money advice you wish everyone would follow?
My best advice is that personal finance is personal. Sure, there are a lot of great “standard” principles to follow and we can all learn from each other, but accepting that what works for you may not work for others and vice versa is foundational. I am also a big advocate for shame-free education, so I think it’s important for women especially to seek out and follow advice that isn’t deprivation-based or trying to make them feel guilty about buying a morning latte.
Shame surrounding money causes people to put off prioritizing their finances, but it’s crucial to start now. Start paying off debt now. Start budgeting now. And start investing as soon as you can — even if it’s just $100 in an IRA or taking your company match each month. When it comes to investing specifically, time is your most valuable asset. That’s part of the reason we developed our investing education and community platform, Treasury.
What’s the most important thing to do to build wealth?
Invest, invest, invest. You will never be able to retire if you don’t invest. You will never be able to pass money down to your children or have true financial independence if you’re not investing your money in the stock market.
Women are primarily kept in the dark about investing and wealth building, and that’s on purpose. It’s especially crucial for women to have access to financial education because women are statistically likely to lose $1 million over their lifetime to the investing gap. The stakes are incredibly high, so the more women begin to learn about investing and long-term wealth building, the better.
What’s your best tip for fighting the impacts of inflation?
Inflation is happening and it’s causing a lot of uneasiness as people prepare for a possible recession. Whether or not that happens, there are simple tips you can implement into your life to improve your financial health. I recommend adding to your emergency fund if possible, cutting extra expenses from your budget, negotiating to lower your bills and working on diversifying your income.
What’s the biggest mistake people make when it comes to money?
There’s this myth that investing is only for wealthy people, which is furthest from the truth. A lot of people, specifically women, feel investing isn’t accessible to them. I come across this all the time — women who say “I don’t have $500 a month to put into an IRA,” and I say, “OK, do you have $100? Or even $50?” They don’t realize you can start investing with a very small amount.
Also, as I mentioned above, anything deprivation-based really bothers me. I can’t tell you how much steam comes out of my ears when I see advice telling people that they should never buy avocado toast, or not ever go out to a restaurant if they’re in debt. There’s a balance — you can spend within your means, pay off debt, save money and still enjoy your life. It’s not an either/or situation.
Jaime Catmull contributed to the reporting for this article.
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