Even though more womxn are working and earning higher salaries than ever before and breaking glass ceilings all over the damn place, we’re still behind when it comes to retirement and investing—yet we live longer than men do. So what gives?
Well, a lot of the womxn I know in my life feel like they have time to wait, they can invest later when they have more available cash, after they save for a wedding, or after they pay off student loans or credit card debt. Or it’s just not that important right now. Even worse is my biggest pet peeve: that they can rely on their spouse’s 401(k). In other words, they’re contributing to their spouse’s retirement for THEIR future. Well, I’m here to tell you that in most cases, you’re wrong.
You need to be investing what you can, right now. Not only for your future self, but for your present self. So you can change things in the world, literally put your money where you mouth is (or values are), and invest in ESG or SRI stocks (aka, socially, environmentally, and ethically conscious investments). Plus, if you walk away from a marriage or a relationship, you need to have your own damn money to fall back on. Yes, you can have a healthy relationship while still prioritizing your own financial well-being.
And if you’re over there thinking you’ve got it all figured out because you have a good chunk of money in a savings account, kudos. Money in savings is a GREAT first step, but even in the highest interest savings account you can find, your money is still worth less with each passing year. The only way to combat that decreased buying power is by investing that money in something that beats the rate of inflation (which has been an average of 3.22%/year).
First, I’m going to define a few important terms I’m going to use throughout this article:
Compound Interest/Compounding Returns: Interest/returns paid on both the principal balance and on accrued interest/gains.
Retirement Accounts (SEP IRA, Roth IRA, 403b, 401k, Traditional IRA, etc): A plan for setting aside money to be spent after retirement. For the purposes of this article, the retirement accounts I refer to are all qualified retirement accounts per the IRS. Some of them help you pay less in taxes now (SEP/Traditional IRA 401k), and some help you pay less in taxes later (ROTH). For these accounts, you can’t take your money out without incurring a 10% penalty before the age of 59 ½. This is to incentivize you to keep your money in here, and not touch it until you’re actually retired (and also why I recommend also having savings accounts and non-retirement investment accounts).
Investment/Investment Account: A type of account that is post-tax, doesn’t have any long-term retirement benefits, but money can be withdrawn at any time, regardless of your age.
Inflation: A general increase in prices and fall in the purchasing value of money.
Why You Need To Invest
We’re going to talk about compound interest here for a minute. One of my strongest beliefs is that you should get retirement and investment accounts set up first, followed by a savings account. That’s because your retirement and investment accounts will generally give you an 8% average return over a 10-year period.
Now we’re going to do some math (I know, but trust me, it’s important).
If you’re 25 and invested $5,000 now, contributed $100/month to retirement for the next 40 years, and retired at 65, you’d have somewhere around $470,467.71. If you waited until you were 30, invested $5,000 and contributed $100/month for 35 years and retired at 35, you’d have $310,851.00. That’s a difference of almost $160,000, and the amount invested only decreased by $6,000 (5 years of $100/month).
Even crazier, if you’re 20 and invested $5,000, contributed $100/month for 45 years, and retired at 65, you’d have around $708,271.99!!
So when I tell you that compound interest is important and that investing something now is better than investing a larger amount in a few years, trust me on it.
How To Invest
Invest in yourself and your future right now, even if it’s only five dollars a month. Something is better than nothing, and like I talked about above, compound interest is your friend when it comes to taking care of your future self.
If you have a retirement plan offered through a job, you can start now by:
Opening a retirement (or multiple) accounts (if you don’t have access to one through a job).
If you have one through your work, you want to contribute to both a ROTH and regular option. ROTH contributions help future you with taxes, and regular/traditional pre-tax options help you with taxes.
If you’re self-employed or don’t have a retirement plan offered through a job, you can start now by:
Opening two types of retirement accounts: a ROTH and a Traditional IRA (or a SEP IRA if you’re self-employed).
You want to open and contribute to both types of accounts because post-tax ROTH contributions help future you with taxes, and regular/traditional pre-tax contributions help you now when it comes to taxes.
Whether you have a retirement plan offered through your employer or not, I recommend splitting your pre- and post-tax contributions 50/50, so if you can set aside $50/month for now, I’d send $25 to a ROTH and $25 to a Traditional account. I also recommend opening an investment account, then a savings account. I like Ellevest and Betterment.
That’s it. Your step-by-step guide to starting investing today (in like 15 minutes). You’re worth it, and the world needs more womxn investing and taking control of their financial future.
Images: Startup Stock Photos / Pexels
I’ve literally always wanted laser hair removal. It seemed completely unattainable; an urban legend of hairlessness reserved for celebrities (or like, Corinne). Then things changed. Instagram influencers started publicizing the “secrets” of their beauty routines. (Hint: many involved laser.) Laser centers multiplied (at least in NYC/LA), and prices dropped. And, most importantly, I graduated college, got a job, and started paying my own bills (*sob*). The only silver lining of that last change? I suddenly had free reign over how I wanted to irresponsibly blow spend my money. So on a day I was feeling particularly brazen (read: my paycheck had just hit), I went for it. I bought five Brazilian laser hair removal sessions at the “special discount price” of $800. Having gone through the process, here’s what you should know before getting laser hair removal.
The Cost Of Laser Hair Removal
Obviously, the cost of laser hair removal will vary depending on what you want done, where you go, and whether you’ve heard of Groupon. Groupon is a must (especially if you live in NYC or LA, where you’ll get the best deals), but don’t go crazy. You should always research facilities by reputation first—a hack lasering job can leave you with scarring, burning, and a whole host of other nasty consequences—and then see what deals are available. It’s also important to note that most areas will take a minimum of five sessions to see lasting results. (If you have particularly thick hair, it can take a few more). So, most places offer packages of 5 or 6, which I highly recommend if it’s your first time.
All told, you should be able to buy a set of underarm treatments for around $200, bikini/Brazilian for around $500, and lower leg for upwards of $700. (Disclaimer: I live in DC, so my options were more limited. Hence the $800 payment). And while I found myself paying off my laser hair removal treatment over several months, I haven’t regretted it. I’ve been getting Brazilian waxes since high school, usually at around $50 each. So I went to a very dark place thinking how much money I could’ve saved by getting laser earlier. On the other hand, the cost of shaving my legs is so relatively cheap (financially—the emotional toll is enormous). So I couldn’t quite justify a laser leg treatment since a razor is like, $20 every few months or whatever. You ultimately need to decide what makes sense for you.
As I said before, I’ve been getting Brazilian waxes monthly for a little under a decade. So compared to that, the pain of laser hair removal was NBD. It’s kind of like a hot, sharp pinch, but it passes quickly and they give you a cooling pad after. It’s obviously not the most relaxing experience in the world—I’m naked from the waist down and talking about my weekend plans with a stranger, after all. Other cons include some redness/swelling for 24 hours max (not every time), the terrifying comment that I might find “ash in my underwear,” and the time my time my technician shaved me instead of giving me the option to do it myself. But it only takes about 15 minutes per session (legs take longer), and honestly, no hair removal is fun.
Disclaimer: If your skin is particularly sensitive, or if you’re at a facility that’s using shitty machines, you may have a more painful experience. Never be afraid to ask questions about what to reasonably expect from treatment, or more information about how the procedure works and what they’re using.
To be honest, I’m not as blown away as I thought I’d be. Five sessions later, I’m still growing hair—thin and fine hair, granted, and it’s mostly invisible unless you’re six inches away. Then again, I’m really only doing this treatment for the people who are six inches away, and I’d been hoping for a full-on Beyoncé bikini line. I also have some ingrown hairs, and hoped laser would heal those marks. And it did—but again, it didn’t eliminate them entirely. It just made them less obvious.
Since having a few fine hairs on my lower legs would bother me less than having them on my bikini line, I don’t think I would have these complaints with lower leg laser treatment. I’m just still trying to justify the cost to myself. Which brings me back to the original question: Is laser hair removal worth it?
In certain cases, like replacing a waxing habit, I say just do it. Even if it’s not quite the swath of Barbie skin I had in mind, my bikini line is effectively clean. I won’t have to put mental energy into whether I’m bikini-ready all summer, and I’ve already saved $250 and three hours of my life from waxes I no longer need. On the other hand, buying laser for areas where the alternative is shaving (like my legs) is still something I can’t commit to. In the end, it all comes down to your current needs. If you’re someone who shaves her legs every day, is sensitive to razor burn, and freaks out at the first sign of stubble, then laser might be for you. It won’t turn you into a Victoria’s Secret Angel, but it will take unwanted hair off your mind for a long, long time.*
*(Touch-ups after a few years are common.)
Images: Tumblr (3); @alexiswaters_ / Instagram