On April Fool’s Day, the Boston Chapter of WomenAdvancing is holding an event at Society of Grownups℠, a learning initiative of Mass Mutual, called Don't Be a Fool With Your Money: Get Fiscally Fit . Society of Grownups℠ is a place that’s dedicated to fostering financial literacy for adults on issues like negotiating a salary, saving for a down payment or planning for the future. They offer classes, guest speakers and events to a community of like-minded folks, all geared toward helping you navigate adulthood without losing your soul or your sense of adventure along the way.
Our event speaker, Karen Carr, CFP® who is a financial planner at Society of Grownups℠, will discuss aligning your values, your money and your life. I had a chance to catch up with Karen to ask her a few burning questions about approaching your financial plan within your unique value system. She believes financial planning doesn’t have to be intimidating and it’s definitely not one size fits all. There are a number of paths you can take to reach your goals; it’s about working together to find the right one. And of course, starting early never hurts.
For more insights, join WomenAdvancing -- Boston on April 1st at Society of Grownups℠ by registering here.
Katharine Panessidi: At Society of Grownups℠ you say that the real secret to building your financial plan is to live within your priorities - your unique value system. How do you suggest that women begin to tackle the exercise of defining priorities and values?
Karen Carr: Think about what is most important to you. These are the things that make you happiest and satisfied with your life. Values like family, independence, meaningful work, helping others or money usually pop into people’s heads. Once you have identified the key values that make you tick, you can then apply these to your financial priorities.
KP: Share some examples of how different values could affect your financial plans.
KC: If you value adventure and play, maybe it’s time to get serious about saving for your next big trip. Look at your current spending habits. Are there things you’d be willing to cut back on or cut out altogether to feed your sense of adventure?
KP: What if you value money and wealth?
KC: Focus on increasing your income to help you build wealth. Ask for that raise, be prepared to look elsewhere if you don’t get it, purchase a rental income property, start freelancing … the possibilities are endless to make this value a priority.
KP: What are some of the trade-offs and decisions that need to be faced once you complete this exercise?
KC: Have you ever made a purchase and regretted it only a short time later? It’s probably because it felt good at the time but it didn’t truly align with your overall value system. Maybe your career no longer feels like it “fits you” anymore because what you value most has shifted. When we start allowing our values to shape our day to day decisions there can oftentimes be a trade-off between what feels good right now and what will satisfy us longer term.
KP: Women represent a big part of the population that has been failed by the financial services industry in the past. How are you trying to change the conversation around money for women?
KC: While we don’t focus on women exclusively, I think we are naturally drawing more women into the conversation by starting with goals and valuing each person no matter their status or how much wealth they’ve accumulated. That means whether you’re single, married, in grad school, have kids, or just getting started out of college, you matter to us. Your goals and values will help shape your financial future, and we’re here to help you no matter what stage of life you’re in.
KP: Who is your female role model in the financial world?
KC: This person isn’t exactly in the “financial world” but I would say my female money role model is my mom. She handled the day to day finances for my family and always had a grasp on our overall financial health. I can remember her pulling out her checkbook (which was always balanced) and paying bills each month at our kitchen table. She had her own system -- it never seemed all that organized or perfect from the outside but she knew exactly what worked for her. I think those were amazing money habits to grow up with.
KP: Thinking about different “lifestyle moments” -- i.e. marriage, having children, retirement, etc. -- do you have any general fiscal advice for women?
KC: A lot of big life changes can feel incredibly overwhelming, but look at the big picture and focus on where you are trying to go or what you are trying to accomplish. It’s much easier to translate this into action. Remember, every action you take, no matter how big or small, can make a difference.
KP: What are the top finance management websites you would recommend?
KC: One of my personal favorites is the app called Level Money. It allows you to create a spending and savings plan and easily track your spending. What sets it apart is that it focuses on three buckets only: monthly bills, savings and whatever is leftover -- meaning the amount you have left to spend as you please. I like to keep it simple.
Another favorite is SocietyofGrownups.com, although I’m slightly biased! The site allows you to link all of your accounts and see your whole financial picture in one place. We also have a tool that allows you to plot your individual goals along a timeline to help you think about your long term trajectory.
KP: What financial questions should I be asking myself?
KC: What do I want and how can I get there? It’s a *big* question, right?!
Katharine Panessidi is Vice President of Content and Events at MITX and Co-Founder of WomenAdvancing -- Boston. She has developed conferences and events for the digital marketing and nonprofit sectors for over 8 years. She’s passionate about creating excellent event experiences, particularly bringing the very best thought leadership to the stage: Discovering the threads of excellence that inspire and propel the industry’s most powerful marketing partnerships, professionals, and ideas.
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