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
Listen—it’s March. It’s cold. The holidays are long in the rearview mirror. Now’s about the time of year we start collectively banging our heads against our desks and sobbing into our sh*tty salads, wishing we were on a plane heading somewhere warm and tropical.
Spring break is fast approaching, and if you’re lucky enough to get the hell out of the office and onto the beach, you’re going to have to book a flight and set foot in an airport soon enough. Every time I go to the airport it feels like I lose half my vacation budget on a pack of M&Ms and SmartWater. It’s easy to drop major coin while coming and going for your flight, and you probably want to save more of that sweet, sweet cash for drinks on the beach. If you’re looking for tips to scrimp and save on your flight and at the airport, look no further.
I just took out a second mortgage on my house in case I get hungry at the airport tomorrow.
— Tracie Breaux (@traciebreaux) July 24, 2018
1. Try Not To Check A Bag (I Know It’s Hard, But Trust Me)
You can tell a lot about a person by whether or not they check a bag at the airport for a three day weekend
— Ashley Fern (@disco_infern0) May 24, 2019
It is NOT easy to pack everything in a carry-on, especially if you’re going on a week-long trip. Believe me, I’ve been there. However, checking a bag tacks on at least another $30-$50 or more each way, depending on the airline. Plus there’s the possibility of losing your luggage, which could force a last-minute shopping spree (fun, but not ideal, and definitely not financially responsible). Avoid extra fees and stick with your carry-on.
2. Travel On Off Days And Off-Hours If You Can.
If you book an 8am Monday flight from a busy airport… I mean… godspeed to you. It is going to be a true nightmare, and it’ll cost you (literally). Mondays and Thursdays tend to be filled with business travelers and tourist families, while flying on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays are statistically proven to be the cheapest days to fly. Round trip fares will be cheaper if you choose an off day for both your inbound and outbound flights, so plan accordingly. Plus, traveling on an off day makes you more likely to get a seat to yourself. Can I get an amen?!
3. Bring Your Own Snacks To The Airport.
The airport is a lawless place. 7am? Drink a beer. Tired? Sleep on the floor. Hungry? Chips now cost $17
— Alyssa Limperis (@alyssalimp) May 23, 2018
As we know, airports are like some sort of time warp where people order $25 glasses of champagne at 7:30am and walk around with bare feet like this is a completely acceptable thing to do. It’s tempting to want to join the party and drop $30-$40 on a measly sandwich and glass of wine before your trip, and that little airplane menu of weird sausage and cheese trays looks miiiighty satisfying after three hours in the air. But say it with me… Just! Say! No! Bring little containers of snacks with you and save the spending for the poolside bar. And, protip: you can bring those little mini bottles of liquor in your carry-on, provided you follow all the other TSA rules, like putting it in a plastic baggie.
4. Use A Reusable Water Bottle
An easy but effective money-saving tool: bring your own reusable water bottle to the airport. Contrary to popular belief, you CAN bring your own empty water bottle through security no matter the size. Most airports sell water for anywhere between $3 and $7 (ew), so save the environment AND your wallet by bringing your own.
5. Take Your Medicine Cabinet With You
No, I’m not saying bring the nail polish remover that’s been sitting in your bathroom since 2014, but as we all know, airports are, like, a guaranteed way to get sick and it never hurts to have some Advil, hand sanitizer, and Emergen-C when traveling. Bring some with you (make sure it follows the TSA guidelines) and avoid paying for marked-up items in the terminal.
6. Exchange Money In Advance
Going abroad? If you need cash where you’re headed (which is tbh probably a good idea in case of emergency), exchange it at a bank before you get to the airport. Most currency exchanges have an added airport fee. This pesky “airport fee” shows up a lot—currency exchanges, car rentals, gifts, and food—and it can quickly add up. Avoid the fee and save yourself the panic of not having any cash on hand and exchange currency before you leave for vacay.
7. Download Your Shows Beforehand
Some of us get so distracted by booking hotels, flights, and activities for our trip that we forget that before we get there we’ll be sitting in the middle of the sky for hours on end with no internet access to mindlessly scroll through TikTok. We end up succumbing to the boredom and paying $10 for two mid-season episodes of Modern Family in order to make time move a little faster. No? Just me? Avoid the boredom and the price tag and remember to download your shows, books, and podcasts before your flight while you still have WiFi.
8. Find A Cheaper Ride
nothing screams vacation quite like spending $80+ to get to the airport
— @betchestravel (@betchestravel) November 14, 2019
Getting to and from the airport racks up tons of charges, and is pretty unavoidable, since you literally have to get there some way or another. However, some options are better than others. Do your research—in some cities, rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft will be cheaper than taxis, or there might be public transportation at the airport that will land you close enough to your hotel. Look into public transportation in your city to get you to the airport, or, better yet, get a really nice friend to drive you and promise to do their taxes or something to make up for it.
the most unrealistic thing about love actually is that someone will pick you up from the airport
— Chelsea Nachman (@chelseanachman) December 24, 2017
You totally deserve a vacation and I know you’ve been saving up for it, so don’t lose that hard-earned cash at the airport. Sip an extra margarita by the pool with the money you saved on airport snacks, buy a new bikini instead of checking a bag, and when you arrive at your hotel room super early in the morning because you flew at 3am, upgrade that sh*t.
Images: K Hsu / Unsplash
“Broke college student” is a stereotype for a reason. Many of us don’t have jobs, or if we do, we’re being paid minimum wage. Tuition, books, room and board, and everything else
our parents we have to pay for are f*cking expensive. But there’s good news, too. College students are the future. The tremendous power we hold can and should be exploited! Brands know this, and companies view universities as the perfect test market, a place of young tastemakers whose opinions matter. We are as relevant as we’ll ever be in college, and it’s up to us to take advantage of that. And that means finessing as much free sh*t as we possibly can before our powerful student status runs out. If you’re wondering how your friend with under 1,000 followers is able to post #ad on her latest Instagram, or simply looking to save money, here are six ways to make money and get things for free in college.
1. Become A Campus Brand Ambassador
The days of being an unrealistically hot Instagram model in order to be an ambassador are long behind us. Today, the standard for entry is lower—MUCH lower. Companies are on the quest of gaining brand awareness. They’re increasingly willing to pay or give free sh*t to students to be campus representatives. Free bar tabs, merchandise, and even food can be major perks that come with being a rep. Your feed is probably sprinkled with
subtle yellow Bumble hats, #Beanoutsider, and #Aeriereal captions. However you choose to embark on your ambassador career, make the most of it! Becoming an ambassador is as easy as sliding in a brand’s DMs on Instagram or applying to be part of the ambassador directly through their website.
2. Be A Notetaker
Are you literate? Do you attend classes? Do you have a laptop? If you answered yes to these three questions, which I sure hope you did, you’re qualified to be a notetaker! By being a student notetaker, you can make hundreds of dollars for your class notes by the end of the semester. Make money for something you would be doing anyway! Whether it’s through an academic center to help someone who is actually unable to take notes, or a
dumb rich douche who doesn’t show up to class—money is money! There are general platforms, like OneClass, that let you apply to online, or you can reach out to your campus’s version of the Student Accessibility Services Department to see which classes are in need of notetakers.
3. Join A Research Study
I’m not talking about a Stanford Prison-type experiment. You won’t be locked up by some power-hungry fraternity dude or forced to do anything that requires crazy bodily commitment. I mean you can volunteer to be a test subject for various surveys and in-person studies on campus. Often times you can find out about these studies via flyers posted around campus hubs or by simply searching online for “research opportunities” at your university.
There are some really low-key research studies, and some are actually pretty fun. Payment for participation varies depending on the study and level of commitment. But honestly, any added value to your college bank account is worth it. For example, I made $300 just for talking about my feelings for two hours. It was like the therapist was paying ME for once. Win-win!
4. Pocket Points
Sitting in class. Texting your ex retracting the drunken Snapchats you sent. Making eye contact with the professor every few minutes to make it seem like you’re paying attention. Typical lecture behavior.
We’ve all done it, but if every few classes you feel guilty for having learned nothing, you’re in luck. Pocket points is an app that gives you rewards for turning your phone off during class. You just have to open the app while you’re on campus, then lock your phone. A few hours of actually paying attention and you can earn points. Points can be redeemed at a variety of local stores, restaurants, and even Lyft. What’s better motivation than that?
5. Student Discounts
Beyond a great education, the second most valuable thing your tuition gets you is a little plastic card, aka your student ID. Not only is your ID a lifeline to school, it also often gets you at least 10 percent off at salons, clothing stores, restaurants—you get my drift. You’ll either have to flash the merchant your student ID, enter a student email, or login through UNiDAYS to get the deals. But seriously, a sh*t-ton of places offer student discounts, you just have to do a little digging to find them. Hoooowever, since you didn’t read this whole thing to be shortchanged on intel, here’s some places I know off-hand* that give student discounts:
Clothes: Madewell, J. Crew, Steve Madden, Urban Outfitters, Toms, H&M, ASOS
Workout: Corepower Yoga, SoulCycle
Media: Wall Street Journal, New York Times
Tech: HBO, Apple Music, Spotify, Adobe Software, Amazon Prime
Transportation: Student Universe, Amtrak
Food: Dairy Queen, Arby’s, Chipotle, Buffalo Wild Wings
*Sometimes, participation may vary by location, but I haven’t had any problems with this list thus far!
As you can see, student status presents a multitude of opportunities for capitalization! Be creative, think outside the box, and reach out to random brands you love. Hell, maybe become an ~elusive~ female club promoter. Society values
its ability to exploit youth and for the next four years, we’re here to provide it.
Images: Joel Mott / Unsplash; Giphy (2)