11 Female Financial Leaders Share the Best Money Advice They Ever Received
With a plethora of money advice out there, it can be hard to know what’s actually good advice and what you can skip. So to find tips you can trust, I spoke to women who work in the financial industry about the best advice they personally have received.
Find Out: More Than Half of Women Are Not Investing, New Survey Finds: What’s Holding Them Back?
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Here are their favorite pieces of money advice.
Tanya Van Court, Founder and CEO, Goalsetter
“No matter how much money you make, you can have a wealthy mindset. People with a wealthy mindset use their dollars to build their own wealth instead of using their dollars to make others wealthy. That means having an attitude towards money that is more focused on how you can multiply it versus how you will spend it. For example, I have two friends who both have the same salary. One spends that money on rent, a nice car, designer clothes and lives paycheck to paycheck. The other has a mortgage and rents out some of the space to subsidize the payment, buys cars at auction and then resells them for a higher price, and never pays full price for clothes. By doing this, she is freeing up a lot of money that can be invested and will grow over time to serve her in the future.”
Samantha Melting, Senior Vice President and Head of Consumer Bank, Synchrony
“The best advice I have ever received is to invest in you by paying yourself first. When you make yourself the priority, you are investing in your future self and positioning yourself to be financially resilient for whatever comes your way. Doing this has also created a positive relationship with money for me. It has given me opportunities to make smart decisions, reach new goals and reduce the stress of unexpected financial challenges.”
Jessica Bieligk, Chief Commercial Officer, Paceline
“The best financial advice I’ve received was from my parents. It was to always spend within my means and to approach my finances the same way I approach my career, my relationships and my well-being — set goals, show up, be intentional and be consistent. If you carve out a little bit of time (each day or each week) to stay engaged in your finances, like most wellness goals, it becomes muscle memory and allows you to achieve more than you thought possible. Whether you’re talking about physical health or financial wellness (the two are inextricably linked, by the way), the science shows that we improve health outcomes by improving healthy behaviors.”
Michelle Brownstein, CFP, Senior Vice President of the Private Client Group, Personal Capital
“My dad taught me the importance of always saving a little something. For my 13th birthday, I received presents from many relatives and friends who gave me money as a gift. My father helped me set up a brokerage account and most of the money was deposited there. I was allowed to spend a little bit on something fun (most likely clothes!). With the money in the account, I got to pick stocks to buy. We would often sit down with the newspaper and look through the financial section to decide what to purchase. I’m pretty sure I bought only things I knew, so brands like Coke and Disney were the mainstays of my portfolio for a while. Later on, when I had my first summer job in high school, my father helped me set up a Roth IRA and invest there as well. I don’t know many 16-year-olds with a retirement account, but this put me on a great path to get in the habit of saving each and every time money was earned… Maybe it’s not a surprise I ended up working in wealth management!”
Holly Hynes, Chief Marketing Officer, Consumer and Small Business Bank, Wells Fargo
“The reality is that I didn’t receive any financial advice growing up or as a young adult. In fact, I grew up in a single mom household filled with near-constant financial stress. That experience definitely shaped my behavior and mindset about money: Saving, not living beyond my means, taking risks within reason, etc. And honestly, my experiences growing up and knowing firsthand the weight of that constant financial stress is a big reason why I love working in banking and helping to bring solutions to our customers.”
Mary Kate Loftus, Senior Vice President, Director of Digital Banking, M&T Bank
“[The best money advice I received was from] my brother, John, who is now a managing director at Wells Fargo Capital Finance. When I started working back in 1999, he took the time to write me a letter full of financial advice. He made sure I knew how to max out my 401(k), to pay myself first,’ to develop a savings plan to help me live below my means and to remember that I was accountable for my own financial health. I kept the letter, and your question prompted me to take a look back at it. It’s interesting because we have learned through customer research the importance of a financial inheritance in the sense of passing knowledge down to the generations. I’m incredibly grateful for him doing this.”
Lorna Kapusta, Head of Women Investors & Customer Engagement, Fidelity Investments
“Save, save and save some more. While this may not seem like groundbreaking advice, getting in the habit of saving is one of the most important first steps to start building a solid financial foundation. Better yet, try automating savings from your paycheck to a savings account (or investing account) so that you don’t even think about that money as a possible means to spending.
Try to avoid credit card debt. It’s so easy to lose sight of your credit card bill and payments, and by paying only the minimum each month, you can be left with a cycle of credit card debt for years to come. To prevent this from happening, think of a credit card as a tool to build your credit history. Only put expenses on your credit card that you know you can pay off in full at the end of the month. You may want to start first with a low monthly charge, like a streaming service, and you can budget that amount and know you’ll have the funds to pay it off.
If you find work that you’re passionate about, the money will come. While it’s easier said than done, your passion for a topic will come through in your dedication and energy, and that can make you an extremely desirable candidate. While experience and skills are important, intangible traits separate you from other talent because of your personal desire to drive change and results.”
Jennifer Roberts, CEO, Consumer Banking, Chase
“My mom was a big saver — that was part of her philosophy. From an early age, she always taught me to save half of what I earned, whether it was from babysitting or one of my first jobs working at a local pharmacy. When I got older, I was able to use some of that money to buy bigger purchases, like a car. And when I got my first professional job, I started maxing out my 401(k) and building a nest egg that I couldn’t touch. I always wanted to be able to take care of myself, and not have to ask anyone else for money. It’s a lesson I learned from my mom, and that I’ve passed down to my three kids.”
Lule Demmissie, US CEO, eToro
“The most important part of investing is to stick around long enough to learn from volatility and potential losses. Your technique gets better and you become more resilient as an investor.”
Jennifer Windbeck, Head of Retail Bank Channels & Operations, Capital One
“I’ve learned that careers are made or lost during periods of change. When faced with the unexpected, most of us instinctively move into self-protective mode. We fear and resist what’s different, mourn the loss of the status quo and worry about the future. I was given advice early in my career to not succumb to that inertia, and instead to view change as a narrow window of opportunity and open the sash. You’ll have a significant competitive advantage if you accept the new circumstances quickly, identify the new areas of leverage and take action to capitalize on them.”
Jennifer deRover, Vice President, Enterprise Product Marketing, Synchrony
“My dad was a banker and cashed my first paycheck from my first official job when I was 16. He deposited all of my pay and only brought home a single $2 bill for me and a passbook showing the rest deposited, and said, ‘It’s never too early to start saving.’ He told me to frame the $2 bill to remember the value of hard work and to commemorate that special moment. I still have it in my home office to this day, 33 years later.”
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Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this piece.