How to Be in Charge of Your Finances and Your Future

Camellia by Holly Suzanne Rader
Camellia
Holly Suzanne Rader
Mixed media and acrylic on panel
60 × 48 Inches, 2015.
Image courtesy of Detour Gallery

If you want to know how to reclaim your worth as a woman, the TV show “Good Girls Revolt” is a good place to start. Set in the 1970s, it depicts the daily life of young female “researchers”—fact checkers who did most of the reporting for their male bosses but received no credit. Demanding their right to better pay and bylines in a fictional version of Newsweek, they organize, learn about their legal rights, and take fierce action. Yet the characters, based on actual people, are still caught up in the patriarchal system. They feel a mix of guilt and fear when asking for what they know they deserve.

Even though the wage gap has narrowed since the 1970s, a lot of the show’s elements still ring true. Female journalists in the U.S. are still paid 13 percent less than their male counterparts, and many of my friends in the industry share the frustrations of the women on the show. Like many other New York-based journalists, Tracy, a full-time editor and freelance writer, finds that pursuing a creative profession in an expensive city like New York doesn’t leave a lot of room for financial planning. “Long-term strategies aren’t really attainable for many of us,” she says. “Between my high rent and student loans, I can’t plan too far ahead. I don’t have enough disposable income to think about acquiring assets.”

Laura, another journalist friend, was recently invited to speak on a panel. When she asked about the pay, she was told that it would be an opportunity for her to be more “visible” in the industry. She accepted the invitation without any compensation. But the fact is, visibility is not currency—is her landlord going to accept visibility as a check?

 
“After all, what’s more empowering than being in charge of your own finances and, thus, your future?”
 

Tracy and Laura’s experiences are not singular. These same issues came up repeatedly in my conversations with female friends and colleagues in the field. To get a better understanding of how we can overcome these sorts of problems, I interviewed Amanda Steinberg, a money expert and founder of The Daily Worth, a women-only digital platform that teaches financial literacy. Steinberg is a point of reference for mostly 30-something women who visit her site every month. Her recent book “Worth It” offers them advice on how to invest and overcome their financial obstacles.

“Both lack of knowledge and confidence have a major impact on the way women behave around money,” Steinberg explains. “Most women disengage from the conversation because the topic seems complicated and overwhelming.” But according to Steinberg, there are a lot of things women can do to maximize their earning potential and their assets. The key, Steinberg says, is to focus on where you are with your finances and assess how to move forward from there. “At Daily Worth, we have a different tone,” explains Steinberg. “We say, ‘We’re in this with you, we recognize that everyone has different motivations. Let’s work with your specific characteristics.’ We are sensitive to the diversity of people.” This approach allows readers to feel more in control and confident in their decisions to invest, negotiate and grow their assets.

In so many ways, this strategy of financial empowerment echoes the message of “Good Girls Revolt”—it’s about finding a way to take action despite your disadvantageous circumstances and using that action as a way to define your own worth. After all, what’s more empowering than being in charge of your own finances and, thus, your future?

See more artwork by Holly Suzanne Rader: “Art Series of Fierce Females”

This feature originally appeared in the Money issue. Find more inspiring stories from the Money issue here or read The First American Woman Self-Made Millionaire Made Her Fortune With Hair Products.

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