How to have positive impact while growing your wallet?
Do you want to make the world a better place but feel too busy, broke or tired to make a difference? It’s understandable. How can we possibly help our communities and the planet when we barely have enough time for ourselves?
Here’s the good news: now you can make money while helping the planet. We’ve gathered 10 impact ideas that only take a few minutes to set up. Now you can give your money meaning while growing your wallet.
One of our goals is to get 250K people to take at least one of these actions listed below. Imagine the positive impact we would generate for our communities and the environment?
Take action to transform our economy into a force for good (and make money doing it.)
1 – Switch to a Green Account that Pays
Sick of bank fees, ATM fees and checking accounts that use your money and pay you nothing? Sick of banks that fund destructive fossil fuel projects? Switch to a green account that pays up to 2.00% APY interest, has zero fees ever, free ATMs worldwide, and does not use its customers deposits to fund oil projects or campaign contributions. Aspiration’s Spend & Save account gives you more, and gives back to the planet and its people .Learn More | Get Started
2 – Invest Responsibly in Your Future
Join Swell andstart impact investing. Put in $50 and Swell will match it with another $50. That’s free money. Use code: WELLWALLET. Invest in high growth companies solving the world’s biggest challenges. Choose your portfolio mix: green tech, renewable energy, zero waste, healthy living, clean water, and more. Learn More | Get Started
WealthSimple(US, UK and Canada residents) offers socially responsible investment portfolios in companies that help lower carbon emissions, promote diversity and invest in clean technology. Some of you have asked for options outside of the United States. Here they are! Learn More | Get Started
3 – Shop Sustainable Brands
At EarthHero, an eco-friendly marketplace. Get $20 off your $60 purchase. EarthHero’s rigorous vetting process selects the most sustainable companies across apparel, accessories, beauty, travel, electronics and more. Your shopping choices create change. Learn More | Get Started
4 – Switch your Power Bill to a Clean Energy Bill
With Arcadia Power. Sign up and get $20 off your next power bill. It takes 5 minutes to transform your energy bill into a clean energy bill that uses renewable energy. Learn More | Get Started
5 – Declutter your Life, Help the Planet and Make Money.
Get paid to recycle your old electronics, CDs, DVDs, books and even Legos. Use Decluttr to clean up your home, make money, and limit waste to landfills (electronics are upcycled and resold). No auction fees, next day payments, price promise and free shipping. Learn More | Get Started
6 – Earn $924 a Month and Give your Empty Room a Job
Airbnb is the perfect side gig to bring in extra cash, promote global trust through people-to-people connections, and reduce the global carbon footprint by sharing extra space in your home. The average Airbnb host makes $924 for hosting a few days per month. Learn More | Get Started
7 – Save 25% on your Monthly Bills in Minutes.
Billshark has an 85% success rate in negotiating lower bills for cable, phone, internet, satellite T.V., satellite radio, and home security. They donate an hour to teach kids financial literacy for every bill they negotiate. Learn More | Get Started
8 – Donate to your Favorite Charity with Every Purchase.
32% of Americans let their credit card points expire. That?s $16 billion a year back in the pockets of the credit card companies. The Charity Charge Card lets you automatically donate your 1% cash back to your favorite non profits. No annual fee, tax deductible, and MasterCard benefits. Transform your rewards into positive impact. Learn More | Get Started
9 – Create Passive Income from your Largest Asset while Helping People.
Baby boomers can make money from their biggest asset (their home) while building meaningful relationships. Silvernest is an easy and safe homesharing service with a unique matching tool designed to help older Americans age in place. Learn More | Get Started
10 – Get Paid to Save Energy
If you live in California or Toronto, connect your utility company and get paid to save energy with OhmConnect. Get $10 when you sign up. Learn More | Get Started
There’s Only One Response To The Trucks Blocking Tesla Superchargers
An image came across my newsfeed this week. A group of trucks were blocking the Tesla superchargers in South Carolina, their owners chanting ?F**k Tesla!? I was confused by this behavior and here is why.
Whatever you may think of Elon Musk and Tesla, the facts are these:
Tesla cars are American made and support our economy.
Tesla employs 45,000 people in the U.S.
Tesla cars don?t pollute our air, they are 100% electric.
Tesla has now come out with a lower cost vehicle.
As one friend pointed out, the articles?were not much help in explaining why someone would block Tesla chargers. So, I took the question to my friends on social media. These are friends who are politically red, blue, and independent.
Why Would Anyone Block Tesla Superchargers?
Here were some of the theories that came up:
Parking: perhaps people are upset that Tesla chargers are taking up parking spots. Turns out, in every single one of the protest pictures we found, there were plenty of open spots. Plus, Tesla pays to lease the parking spots.
Annoyance with the Tesla brand because they won?t let users fix their own cars. You have to bring the car to a Tesla shop. Maybe Tesla doesn’t let you repair your own car because it?s pretty complex (computerized everything). It’s also part of risk management. So even though some folks do rebuild their own Tesla, as friend said, “You don’t want Joe mechanic poking and prodding around that type of amperage. It would kill him with one wrong move.”
Cultural bundling: People will side with their team, even if they don?t necessarily agree with the action. It?s a survival mechanism. As a friend pointed out,??If you feel like your way of life is under attack by a certain type of person, and then you see an indicator that you believe shows that someone is the type of person who you feel is attacking your way of life, then fighting back isn’t all that surprising.?
Jealousy: – Disdain for those with perceived wealth. Except that, as another friend pointed out,??The Tesla Model 3 is supposed to retail at $35,000. A 2019 Chevy Silverado 2500HD retails at around $50,000.?
There’s No Stopping What’s Next
But it was the following comment that gave me an Aha moment. My friend Kyle is conservative and owns several diesel trucks. He?s even done his share of rolling coal. His explanation is below:
?I own several diesel trucks, I?ve had my fun rolling coal. And I am generally seen as a conservative … But, never would I do this.
It?s ironic, honestly. Mechanically speaking the torque these electric motors can push out is mind boggling. Makes it a perfect platform from everything to your standard F-350 to a class 8 semi.?…Don?t be surprised if you see these kids driving around electric pickups in the next 5-10 years.
Just a blip on the radar. Really nothing is going to stop the economy. If it makes sense to go electric, it will happen.? ~?Kyle Burroughs Kraakevik, Colorado Springs
There’s Only One Response: Keep Building Better Products.
What I realized is this: ?to make the world a better place, we must build better products. Products that people actually want.
The reason GM is failing is because the market (that’s us, the people)?no longer wants that product. The market wants Tesla. While it?s no secret that GM has seen trouble since the recession, GM dropped the ball by not chasing fundamental market shifts. Simply put, GM has been closing U.S. plants and?consumers haven?t been flocking to buy GM?s hybrid Chevy Volt.
The reason why there is a run on solar roof tiles is because they are cheaper over the long term versus regular roof tiles. They also last longer. (Tesla?s tiles come with a warranty for infinity, can?t get one much longer than that!) Not to mention that they collect FREE energy for your house.
It?s really that simple. There is no stopping market economics. So why try? If you want to stay in business, you need to build better products.?And this applies to all industries. EVERYTHING. Including Financial Products.
It is my personal goal to find the products that:
outperform the status quo and
improve our world.
If we get #1 right, it won?t matter if people care about #2.
Real estate investing is one of the most powerful wealth creation tools around. But where there’s money, there are scammers ready to take it. We’ve all heard stories of real estate scams, fake money gurus and bad landlords. The good news? You don’t have to be a jerk or fall prey to one in order to make money in real estate. In fact, you can make more money by helping build a better world through sustainable real estate investing. Your health, your heart and your wallet will thank you for it.
Sustainable Real Estate Investing Is Now A Thing
Sustainable and impact investing?has grown over 100% since 2012, according to a 2017 study from EY (formerly Earnst & Young). This trend is now making its way to real estate investing. Some of our readers asked us if?there was such a thing at sustainable real estate investing.?In other words, is it possible to do well and do good through real estate investing? The answer is yes. From sustainable REITs to socially responsible landlord and investor practices, there are multiple ways to have positive impact and make money with real estate investing.
First, let?s take a look at how real estate investing can help communities and the environment.
How Real Estate Investing Helps People and Planet
You can make profit and have measurable positive impact through real estate investing. Here are a few of ways that real estate investing can help communities and the environment:
Provides a home for people:??It seems obvious, but everyone needs a home. By being a good landlord, you help build goodwill and a sense of pride for you and your tenants.
Builds community:? Little gestures go a long way. Years ago, before becoming a real estate investor, my landlord left us a tin box of popcorn for the holidays. I still remember this gesture. It pays to keep lines of communication open. When you own property, you have the opportunity to build community. The result:? you will attract long term tenants who create homes they are proud to live in.
Helps the local economy:? When you buy real estate, it is likely you will use plumbers, electricians, handymen and other small businesses that make up the ecosystem of the local economy. Bonus:? you get to decide which conscious businesses to seek out. By working with businesses that care about People and Planet, your impact is amplified.
Helps the environment:? As a landlord, you can save money (translation: make money) by employing eco friendly housing practices. This includes using green building practices, high efficiency light bulbs,?non toxic paint, energy efficient windows, geothermal heating/cooling, updated insulation (even simple things like weather stripping), and educating renters on ways to reduce energy consumption while making money.
The Benefits of Real Estate Investing
With real estate investing, you own your own business. This type of business is highly flexible, letting you put in as much or as little time as you want into it. The cash flow from real estate also provides freedom. You can use this cash flow to quit your day job, fund an education, or launch your passion project. Here are some of the benefits of real estate investing.
Cash flow:??If you buy right, you can make enough money from rentals or leases to cover all of your expenses, and then some.
Appreciation:? Real estate naturally appreciates about 3% to 5% per year. Not all years will be up years (as we saw in 2008). But real estate is less volatile than the stock market. In addition, there are things you can do to accelerate appreciation (e.g. renovations).
Equity:? You build equity in the property as market conditions increase the value of your home. You can even tap into that appreciation (without selling) through refinancing, then use that money to buy additional properties.
Debt reduction:? Someone else (the tenants) are paying down your mortgage.
Tax breaks:? It?s a weird and wonderful thing. Your asset appreciates, even though the asset itself (the physical structure of the property) depreciates. You get to write off that depreciation from your taxes.
Inflation hedge:? Even when inflation is high, this can be good for the real estate you own, because inflation also forces higher rental prices. In addition, the underlying asset (the property) can be counted on to be there in the future. The same cannot be said of other investments in high inflation scenarios. Plus, with higher inflation, the size of your loan (the mortgage) becomes smaller, since money is now worth less.
Seven Ways To Get Into Sustainable Real Estate Investing (While Avoiding Scams)
There are multiple ways to make money with sustainable?real estate investing. Here’s an overview of various strategies. We’ve included the good and bad behavior associated with each.
1. Sustainable REITs
What is it😕 Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) have been around for some time. A REIT is an investment vehicle that is made up of many income producing real estate assets. You can buy REITs through your online brokerage account, just like you would by a fund or a stock. There are a number of?Sustainable REITS that take a socially responsible approach. These REITS use green building standards (such as LEEDs certified buildings) and strategies to reduce consumption and conserve natural resources.
Good for:? Passive investing, income generation.
Time investment😕 Low (online research of publicly traded REITs).
Note😕 You won’t make as much money using REITs as you could with direct real estate investing. This is because the portfolio managers, fund administrators, and the team managing the underlying properties charge fees for their services. But sustainable REITs could be a good option for people who want a hands-off approach to sustainable real estate investing.
Scams:? Many REITs are registered with the SEC and publicly traded on a stock exchange. You can buy these from your online broker. That’s good news for us investors because of the built-in regulatory protections. Our recommendation is to stick to publicly traded REITs. There are privately held REITs that often promise higher return. This often means higher risk and sometimes fraud. Even if you buy a private REIT, make sure they are registered with the SEC.
2. Buy and Hold
What is it😕 Buy a property, rent it out. This could be a single family home, a duplex, triplex, or quadplex. As an investor, you make money on appreciation, monthly cash flow and tax benefits. This is my favorite type of real estate investing. Why? It’s straightforward.
Good for😕 Long term appreciation and cash flow.
Time investment😕 Medium / low. You can manage this type of real estate investing while holding down a full time job.
Scams and unethical behavior😕 There are many landlord scams out there, from landlords keeping the security deposit, to fake (copied) listings, to expensive background checks. I recently had a prospective tenant fall prey to one of these scams. A scammer had copied our rental listing from Zillow and put up a fake listing on Craigslist. The scammer listed the property at below market rates and then demanded that potential renter send them the security deposit right away in order to “secure their spot”. Once they had their cash, they vanished.
How to be a good landlord😕 Be a good human. Think about ways to make your rentals People and Planet friendly.
Don’t overcharge for background checks, pets, application fees or incidentals.
Remember, you are building a relationship with a community of people who will be taking care of your property for the long term. If you treat people well, they will treat your property well. Don’t create harsh rules for the 5% of people who break them. Instead, create business practices for the 95% who are good caretakers.
Give people plenty of notice before entering their home.
Return deposit checks on time. Don’t nickel-and-dime people for normal wear and tear.
Be fair. If you have an energy inefficient house with single pane windows from the 1950’s that you’ve refused to upgrade, don’t expect your tenants to pay the full amount for heating and cooling. Make the home energy efficient or share in the cost of heating/cooling.
Remember that what goes around comes around. There will come a day when you need a favor from your tenants (e.g. a last minute inspection request). It pays to build good relationships.
What is it😕 Maybe you’ve seen the signs: “we buy ugly houses” or “we buy houses for cash”. A wholesaler is someone who enters into a contract with a home seller, markets the home to potential buyers, and then assigns the contract to one of the buyers. Wholesalers make a profit by buying the home at a low cost and then selling the contract to another buyer at a higher price.
Good for😕 Generating a lump sum of cash.
Time investment😕 High (no matter what some money gurus may tell you).
Scams😕 The scams associated with wholesale deals come in three forms. Note: there are legitimate wholesalers. This does not apply to all wholesalers.
If you want to become a wholesaler, watch out for?investment seminar scams (see below) that promise to teach you how to wholesale. Be warned that this is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It?requires significant time, effort and marketing to get going.
Second, there are some wholesalers who use shady practices to convince people to give up their properties for a fraction of their value. Or they lock up the property in a contract for months and then are unable to close. These wholesalers target vulnerable people who are in pre-foreclosure, probate, the elderly, low income, or those trying to sell quickly.
The third type of real estate wholesale scam can happen when you as the buyer try to buy a property from a scammy wholesaler. Charlatan wholesalers will, for example, overprice the sale of the property. Remember, the whole point of of a wholesale is to buy low and sell low. The wholesaler makes their money on volume. If the wholesaler tries to offload property at a premium, the investor will eventually find out how much they paid for it and will stop doing business with the wholesaler.
How to be a good wholesaler😕 There’s a market for people who need to sell quickly and don’t want to use a realtor. Being a wholesaler can be a benefit to the community. To be a good wholesaler:
Be completely transparent about how you will make money.
Let people know their options. Don’t pressure or burden vulnerable people with unnecessary risk.
Don’t over promise your ability to close.
Don’t lock up people’s property for months because you can’t find a buyer.
Avoid scammy marketing gimmicks. Don’t spam people. Don’t collude with other wholesalers to entrap people through marketing. Build relationships instead.
Learn from good people. Attending one real estate seminar does not make you a wholesaler. Take the time to build a real business.?There are reputable wholesalers who’ve build their brands and reputations over years. Learn from them before you start marketing.
And remember, it’s your brand. What kind of energy do you want to put out into the world?
4. Fix and Flip
What is it😕 The reality TV shows have spurred a wave of new fix and flip real estate investors. Here, investors will buy a property, put in some improvements, and sell it at a higher price. Fix and flip real estate investing is highly speculative because you’re floating the cost of maintaining and updating the property while it is being renovated. Some argue that it’s a good way to generate cash.? But watch out for taxes, construction risk, and markets flooded with fix and flip investors.
Good for😕 Generating a lump sum of cash.
Time investment😕 High intensity, medium term.
Scams😕 Con artists participate in illegal house flipping by getting certain appraisers to value property for more than it’s worth. Also be on the lookout for cash out purchase fraud. Finally, before you attend any real estate investing seminar that promises to show you how to flip homes, do your homework.
Sustainable fix & flip options😕 There are many free resources?to help you get started on fix and flip real estate investing. The biggest thing to remember is that you are putting yourself out there. If you want to build a healthy long term business that helps our communities and the environment, make choices that support your strategy.
Consider making the home energy efficient (a great niche strategy to get high intent buyers).
Look up necessary state and city permits associated with solar panels and other green retrofit options.
What is it😕 Real estate investors buy properties in pre-foreclosure from motivated sellers.
Good for😕 Generating a lump sum of cash (if flipping) or long term appreciation and cash flow (if holding).
Time investment😕 High. For seasoned real estate investors only. You’ll need to spend a lot of time learning how to do this the right way.
Scams😕 There are plenty of examples of people getting scammed in pre-foreclosures. Scams range from companies claiming to help homeowners with loan or HAMP modifications (that program closed in 2017), to scammers pressuring home owners to sign contacts, wire funds or quit claim their home deeds for the purpose of getting the home out of foreclosure, only to have the scammer take additional loans out on the home.
How to invest ethically in foreclosures and pre-foreclosures😕 Foreclosures and pre-foreclosures happen. People fall on hard times for a variety of reasons. As a sustainable estate investor, you can help people save their credit and provide cash for their home. I am not a fan of this type of real estate investing because there are too many variables and opportunities for buyers and sellers to misunderstand each other. But if this is a strategy you want to pursue, there are basically two ways to go about it:
Pay off the loan yourself in an all cash deal and take possession of the property.
Make back payments to the bank to bring the loan up to current and take ownership of the property using a Subject-To agreement. You would not want to start making back payments or improvements unless you owned the property, which is why the seller deeds the house over to you, even though the mortgage remains in their name. Again, not a fan of this strategy, especially for newer real estate investors. But if you pursue it, make sure that all parties involved go into the deal eyes-wide-open. And remember to be a good human.
6. Lease-to-Own / Rent-to-Own
What is it😕 A lease-to-own options?gives people a way to own their home after a period of time. Here, the tenant pays you (the owner) a higher monthly rent for the right to buy the home in the future. As the owner, you finance the mortgage (either through a bank or from your own funds). After 2 to 3 years, the tenant has built enough credit to get their own bank financing. At this time, the tenant exercises their option to buy the home. This can be a good strategy for people who don’t have sufficient credit or down payment to purchase a home.
Good for😕 Higher cash flow and lower maintenance cost vs. regular rentals (tenant is responsible for property upkeep).
Time investment😕 Medium.
Scams / unethical behavior😕 There are investors who take advantage of people through rent-to-own scams. Scams can include unpaid property taxes, uninhabitable homes, unmet promised fixes or homes under foreclosure. Even with legitimate rent-to-own options, some investors deliberately hide details in the contract. For example, the deal is off (and the owner keeps the higher monthly payments made) if the tenant is delayed in even one payment. Or the negotiated price no longer holds up to market rates when it comes time for the tenant to buy the home. That means the tenant cannot get financing and the home goes back to the seller.
Ethical rent-to-own / lease-to-own options😕 As an investor, you have the chance make money and have a positive impact on people?s lives. As an investor, you are in need of higher cash flow. The tenants are in need of home ownership. This can be a win-win. Here’s now to do it the right way:
Don’t lock people into a price point that may not be supported by market rates when the time comes for the tenant to exercise their option to buy.
Base the final sale price on fair market value, as determined by an independent appraiser.
Don’t break the contract if the tenant is late one month. Find another way (a late fee, for example).
7. Other Types of Real Estate Investing
There are other ways to invest in real estate, including syndicated deals and private placement. These types of investments often require accredited investor status because they are highly speculative. Remember that people like to share when they made money from deals, and often stay quiet when these types of deals go south. If you pursue these types of deals, make sure to get references.
Finally:? Watch Out For Pricey Real Estate Investment Seminars
One final word of caution:? watch out for real estate investment seminars. This is a touchy subject because some seminars and courses are in fact valuable. However, many have earned a reputation for taking their students’ money and not delivering sufficient value. At the same time, remember that real estate takes work, time and capital from YOU. So you can’t solely blame the seminars if you don’t put in the effort. There is no get-rich-quick scheme in real estate.
Out of curiosity, I recently attended a multi-day real estate investing seminar. I’ve outlined the following words of caution in order to save you money and time. These seminars often start with a free seminar that is then used to up-sell you to the multi-day seminar.
Watch out for seminars and gurus that:
Have no money back guarantee.
Use the first paid seminar as a way to get you to buy more seminars (often in the tens of thousands of dollars).
Use scammy sales tactics and charming presenters that prey on your emotions.
Speed through the valuable aspects of the course while stretching out the emotional stories.
Incorporate political conspiracy theories into their rhetoric (all the while telling you it’s not political).
Teach techniques that take advantage of uneducated people.
Dismiss any questioning of their techniques.
Ask you to use their appraisers, lenders, sellers, or others in their network (there is often a kick-back).
Ask you to pay tens of thousands of dollars to access a mentor.
Have had more than one lawsuit in the last two years, have gone bankrupt, or have too many negative reviews. (Google them, search the Better Business Bureau and do a background check on any money guru.)
Instead of a seminar, consider doing the following:
Attend your local real estate investment club and get to know people in your area. learn from referrals.
Build your own power team of professional contractors, mentors, agents, lenders, handymen, and property managers.
There is no shortcut to real estate investing, no matter what the money gurus promise.
Do Well And Do Good With Real Estate Investing
Real Estate has the potential to create substantial income and net worth, as well as positive impact for our communities and the environment. It is up to us to determine how we want to deploy our capital and energy into the world. Let’s be one of the good guys and create the world we want to see.
Following is a keynote speech from WellWallet founder Sofia Rossato, given at the Women Who Code NYC event hosted by M Science in New York City on November 1, 2018.
Good evening everyone. Michael and Sunaina from MScience asked me to share my story. I’d like to honor my gratitude to them with transparency. I’m going to speak from the heart and share my journey with you. My hope is to give you a few ideas that may help you along your own journey.
In the Beginning…
I was born in Argentina to a big Latin family. My grandmother had 9 children. When I was six, my parents decided to come to the U.S. Our family stayed with my aunt when we first arrived and we slept in their garage for over a year.
I remember seeing my dad wake up before the crack of dawn and come home exhausted from working construction jobs. He did this every day, day after day, for years. I remember thinking how proud of him I was ? to see someone work that hard for his family. At the same time, I remember feeling financial and cultural insecurity.
I remember feeling financial and cultural insecurity.
My identical twin sister and I quickly decided that we would never feel this way again. We worked hard to get rid of our accents because we saw how immigrants were treated. (Side note: this hurt later on, because I forgot some of our native language (Spanish) and had to re-learn in college).
We also became straight A students and even tutored other kids. I especially enjoyed tutoring the kids who were the underdogs, the kids other people had written off. We knew that education was our ticket to opportunity.
The Value of Creativity and Love
Along the way, we never forgot the value of creativity and love. Our parents taught us early on that there were many kinds of capital, including intellectual, artistic, monetary, and athletic capital. They all have value. That’s why we got into the arts. My sister and I were accepted into a magnet arts high school called New World School of the Arts in Miami, FL. You might be familiar the Laguardia High School of Music & Art here in NYC. Their provost came down to Miami and created our high school. Mica, my twin, was accepted for visual arts and I made it in for theatre.
We knew that education was our ticket to opportunity.
Even though my parents didn?t go to college and had us when they were very young, they shared many lessons. My mother was valedictorian of her high school and a big reader. Through her, we learned the value and the power of critical thinking. I remember having so much fun testing each other in chemistry and math using flash cards. My sister and I graduated 3rd and 5th in our high school class. (Side note: darn you Mandy Greenfield, you were 4th and got in between us! 😉 )
Mica received over $500,000 in scholarships to the top art schools around the country. She?s now a high fashion photographer here in NYC. I was accepted into the University of Pennsylvania and graduated magna cum laude ?but not in STEM. My majors were International Relations and Spanish Literature.
(Side note: I highly recommend everyone here gets an identical twin. They don?t have to be a blood relative. Get an accountability partner. The thing about having an identical twin is that you have a natural ally, competitor and soul mate. We liked chasing each other and collaborating. So figure out who your twin is and have fun!)
I don?t know if it was the immigrant thing or not having wealth, but I had a sense of impostor syndrome very early on. I remember thinking:? there?s always going to be someone smarter than me, someone more talented than me. For a while, I was obsessed with the idea of genius. Can someone learn to become a genius, or do you have to be born with it?
Elon Musk was in my class. Who was I to think I could compete in STEM with those guys?
At the time, a STEM path (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) seemed daunting. That was for the kids who went into Penn?s management & technology program. Elon Musk was in my class. Who was I to think I could compete in STEM with those guys? So I did what I knew I could do: work hard. Working hard was my security blanket.
The Mother of All Invention
My need to be financially secure outweighed my insecurity around STEM. So I looked for internships in finance. My mom and stepdad were living in St. Simon?s Island, GA at the time. The summer between my freshman and sophomore year I landed an internship with a financial advisor at Paine Webber, a wealth management company. This was a tiny, one-man office. It was also a time when the internet was just coming about.
Working hard was my security blanket.
I remember calling my boyfriend at the time and asking him: I have no idea how to help this guy. His client list is all over the place and he needs help getting organized. My boyfriend said,”Well, why don?t you build him a database?”
I said, “What?s a database?”
And that?s how it started. That summer I taught myself relational database technology and learned about financial markets. Meanwhile, I also worked as a waitress at a fancy golf resort. Part of me was worried that people I knew might see me working as a waitress. But you know what? In a waitress’ uniform and a hairnet, no one saw me.?That was also the summer I learned a thing or two about job shaming.
Landing My First Real Job
When I graduated, I got a job at an early fintech startup in NYC called Wall Street On Demand. I wanted to be close to my twin sister. My title was ?Marketing Manager,? but the actual day-to-day involved answering customer service calls. I remember my ego taking a hit and thinking, “Is this really where I am supposed to be?”
I remember thinking, “What am I doing?”
I graduated top of my class at an Ivy League institution with $40K in student loans. And here I am, making $30K in NYC, answering customer service calls, and living in an illegal place in Brooklyn before Brooklyn was even cool. We lived in a commercial space, which meant that we had to sneak through a secret door to get to our bunk beds for sleeping. I remember thinking, “What am I doing?”
Why Bosses Matter
But something kept me going. One of those things was a great boss. I would answer phones during the day, and work on databases nights and weekends. I remember one day, I walked into his office and said, “Hey, I realize you asked me to create an acceptance environment for our interactive voice response system. But I have no idea how to do this.”
He looked at me, smiled and said, ?Of course you can do it. You?ll figure it out.? Then waved me away. So I just did it.
I can?t tell you how many people left before things really took off for them.
Again, find people who believe in you, even more than you do. Then take that courage and make it your own. It?s amazing what it does to your confidence when you have to figure out things for yourself. And, you know what? You find out that you can do more than you think you can.
Sometimes You Follow Your Heart and End Up Loving Your Work
My company moved to Boulder, CO. I followed them because I fell in love with a man who would later become my husband. (Side note: if you?re dating someone from your company and you think no one knows, everyone knows.)
This company was bought and sold multiple times. I stayed with them through every single sale. We grew from 12 people to 400 people. We were bought by Thompson Reuters, Goldman Sachs, and finally IHS Markit. Along the way, we built some of the most innovative tools for the largest online retail brokers in the world. Quotes, charts, news, stock screeners, alert services and more.
We were helping people learn about investing and saving. And surprisingly, it was artistic. We had the largest assemblage of financial data designers in the world. These were people who went to art school. Creatives who understood the art of visualizing complex financial data in ways that were beautiful, simple and elegant.
From Customer Service to Chief Operating Officer
My roles at the company took many paths over the following 20 years. From customer service manager and database developer to head of several departments, including project management, product management, the commission management business, and COO of the indices franchise. My last role was COO of the information division at IHS Markit, which, at the time, was an $1 billion division of a multi-billion dollar financial information company.
It did not feel like I was there for 20 years. This was because I went from working at a 12 person start-up to an 11 thousand person conglomerate. I had many jobs and many chapters there.
OK, So I’d Done It… Now What?
So I had done it. I made it. I broke the broke cycle. I paid off my debts and had become financially independent. I made it to the fancy title at a big company. I had built these financial moats around myself so that my family and I would stay safe. And the question that kept coming up over and over was: now what?
The Catalyst to a Second Career
Then, in July 2016, one of my best friend?s husbands was killed by a drunk driver. He was a brilliant Google engineer named Bill Davis. He left my friend, a mom with 3 young boys, alone. When that happened, something in me changed.
I thought a lot about the impact I wanted to leave behind for my kids, and the state of the world when I left this planet. I had spent many years helping institutions (hedge funds, large asset managers, banks) and I wanted to get back to helping the little guy and little gal. The individual. And I knew that there was more than one way to do that.
Meanwhile, I had also struggled with the concept of money. I noticed that there was a lot of shame around it. My artistic side of the family thought I focused too much on money. I also noticed that many people around me felt money shame. Either because they did not have enough of it or felt overwhelmed by the concept. And yet, I?d always felt excited about helping friends understand the money game. I wanted to share all of the good tips and tricks I had learned over the years.
Putting Your Money Where Your Heart Is
Then I realized you can combine any two concepts in a way that is heart driven and real. Even money and technology. If you think about it, money and technology can be beautiful. They are the mother and father of human built systems. And they are powerful.
We can take back concepts like capitalism, which have been vilified. We can take the intrinsically good aspects of money and use them to build a better world. So the big idea became: what if we could transform the economy into a force for good?
Money and technology can be beautiful. They are the mother and father of human built systems. And they are powerful.
We used to think that the only way to have a positive impact was through donation. As it turns out, where you spend, invest, save, bank and even protect your assets, has power.?And women hold much of this power. Studies show that women are better long term investors because we are more risk averse. We also control 86% of household purchasing power. Women are also set to inherit trillions of dollars over the next 2 decades. And with that, we will control over 69% of investable assets.
What if we didn?t have to give up purpose for profit? What if we could have both?
Women and millennials think, spend and invest differently than traditional male investors. We care about the type of planet and communities we leave to our kids. I kept thinking:?What if we didn?t have to give up purpose for profit? What if we could have both?
WellWallet was created as a platform that helps you make and save money, while having a positive impact on People & Planet. It is an automated money assistant (a personal financial management tool) that helps you profit with purpose.?I?m happy, anytime, to give you more information about WellWallet. And we’d love to get your feedback on our app, which just launched in August.
Seven Ideas to Put Into Action Today
For now, I want to leave you with 7 actionable ideas:
Surround yourself with people who make you brave. It?s more than simply saying: you?re the average of the 5 people you hang with (which is true). It?s about finding people who dismiss your insecurities as if they didn?t even exist. Because there are people who believe in your abilities even more than you might.
Realize that this is a long game. Whether you have many chapters in a single company (like I did), or switch careers multiple times, nothing will happen overnight. I can?t tell you how many people left before things really took off for them.
(Side note: Speaking from personal experience, the majority of my wealth came in the second decade of my career. During the first ten years, I was investing and learning. Remember that the more you have, the faster it compounds on itself. That goes for both money and knowledge. But you must put in the work during the early years.)
Don?t believe the idea that this is a zero sum game. We can make the pie bigger. We don?t have to compete with each other for the one or two token spots we think are made available for women at the top. We get to decide the rules of the game and lift each other up. Make the pie bigger and bring your sisters with you along the way.
Sell the Dream. Oftentimes, when bosses or investors are vetting your idea, women will get asked preventative questions instead of promotional questions. Even though studies show that women are better deployers of capital, we are oftentimes asked how we WON’T lose money. So? when you are pitching any idea,?talk about the dream. Of course you’ll need the details to back it up, because unearned power catches up to you. But don?t get pigeon holed into a corner talking about how you won?t fail. Let them know that the details are in the due diligence packet or the business plan. Because what you want them to remember and internalize is the big dream.
Look for asymmetrical risk. Look for opportunities that have 4x the upside v. the downside. When you spot that opportunity, take it. Do this tomorrow. Find a project or a contact that you’ve been wanting to start or reach out to, and ask yourself: what?s the worse that could happen? Just the act of doing this will begin changing your mindset. And begin changing the way others see you, too.
Be a good human. And remember who you represent. When a VC friend of mine was thinking about which female entrepreneur to feature in the intro to her book, it was between Sarah Blakely, the billionaire founder of Spanx, and Elizabeth Holmes from Theranos. Luckily, they stuck with Sarah. Remember that people are watching us.
Find the Heart and Art in everything you do. It doesn?t matter if you are fixing bugs or defining a big vision. All of it matters. And all of it needs your influence. Remember, we get one life. It doesn?t owe you anything and it won?t always be fun or exciting. But every single moment matters. How you get up from your chair, how we greet each other, how you comment your code or deliver that pitch. Turn all of it into ballet. Because life is more beautiful this way. So make it beautiful and make it your own.
Thank you. I am grateful for your time this evening.
If you are struggling to make your credit card payments every month and wondering when and how you will ever pay down your credit cards, it may be time to consolidate credit card debt using a personal loan.
First, ask yourself these questions:
Are you paying high interest on your credit card debt?
Do you have a large credit card balance?
Are carrying balances on multiple credit cards?
Are you looking for alternatives to expensive cash advances from your credit card?
Do you have medical expenses or large purchases that you would rather not put on a high interest credit card?
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, a personal loan might be a good option.
How Personal Loans Can Help Lower Your Debt
If you have been carrying credit card debt, or you need to finance medical expenses or other large purchases and don’t want to use high interest credit cards, a personal loan may be a good option. Personal loans often offer lower interest rates and better payment terms than credit cards do.
Today there are many types of personal loan lenders in the marketplace. Some cater to high credit borrowers. Others are low credit friendly. In addition, if you consolidate credit card debt with a personal loan, you may be able to obtain a personal loan with a lower monthly payment that can free up some cash for emergency savings, or a small investment fund to hedge your debts.
If any of the scenarios below apply to your situation, consider looking into a personal loan.
If the interest you’re paying in credit card debt is greater?than the interest you can get on a personal loan. (Remember to look at all the associated expenses on the credit card and the loan -? both interest and fees.)
If you’re looking to consolidate multiple credit cards into one simple, lower monthly payment.
If you’re looking to finance a large purchase or medical procedure at a lower interest rate.
Before Taking A Personal Loan, Do These Things
Call your credit card company and ask for better terms. Sometimes you can negotiate a lower interest rate, smaller monthly payment, or fee waivers.
Look into transferring high interest credit card balances to a 0% APR credit card. Many credit cards offer an introductory APR of 0%, up to the first 12-24 months. If you think you can pay down your credit card during the introductory period, this may be a good option for you.
If you decide to take on a personal loan,?research the lenders. Make sure there are no pre-payment penalties, fees, and no introductory rates that then go up,
Compare offers from different lenders. Don’t go with the first offer you see. It’s now easy to compare across many lenders at once.
Don’t use your cards!?There is no sense in consolidating credit card debt only to run up your credit cards again. Put them in a? safe place but don’t cancel them. Keeping your accounts open and paid off will increase your credit score.
Go on a spending diet. Cut back on all the little things that add up at the end of the month. Turn it into a game. See how much you can save. Use our?free app to help you stay on top of your game.
Set up a budget. Figure out where your money is going. Designate different buckets for each spending category. When that category is depleted (e.g. movies), don’t spend beyond it.