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To Her Credit

Lessons from female financial role models

Drawing inspiration from strong, powerful women to empower personal financial success

To Her Credit offers targeted advice about personal finance based on unique challenges faced by women. It is authored by women with different financial backgrounds, dedicated to encouraging empowerment through financial literacy.

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There is no shortage of incredible women with accomplishments to look up to. From entrepreneurs with inspiring rags-to-riches success stories to the many women shattering the glass ceiling in male-dominated professions, we can learn distinct lessons about our own financial well-being from others.

Not only do these women have incredible stories and advice to give, but we can strive to imitate their successes while learning from their mistakes – boosting our own chances of financial success.

We’ve found dozens of moving, inspirational stories from women who have beaten the odds to thrive financially. Here are some of our female financial role models and what we’ve learned from their experiences.

When women support women, we are all empowered

Our first female financial role model is Jean Chatzky, the financial editor of NBC’s Today show and the CEO and founder of HerMoney – a platform that provides financial content that is accessible to women.

As she advanced through her career in finance, Chatzky noticed a gap in financial education – namely content geared to women. “I started HerMoney – first the podcast and then the site – because women have come so far in the amount of money we have, the amount of power we have, the financial responsibility we have; and all of those things are only continuing to escalate. And yet, our confidence in handling that portion of our lives hasn’t grown with the fact that we’re expected to do more of it,” says Chatzky.

Dedicated to supporting other women, Chatzky developed HerMoney into an invaluable resource for women seeking financial advice. The content on the site is focused on “talking to real people about their real money,” according to the company’s about page. As Chatzky explains “We need to explain [financial topics] in a way that’s understandable and reassuring. Otherwise, the women that we are talking to will not be able to act on it. It will feel like there’s a barrier between what you’re learning and what you have to do.”

Define success based on your personal experience

Another source of inspiration: Bola Sokunbi, Certified Financial Education Instructor and CEO and founder of Clever Girl Finance – a personal finance website filled with courses, mentorship and support systems for women seeking financial education. Sokunbi’s site offers affordable education for women struggling financially all the way to women just looking to boost their bottom line.

Sokunbi grew up in an environment that encouraged ambition and reaching for lofty goals. She made incredible strides toward her own financial success, including saving $100,000 in just over three years. At the same time, she admits to money mistakes along the way.

Now, she strives to offer personalized financial advice for every kind of financial journey. According to Sokunbi, “it’s called personal finance for a reason. It’s personal to the person experiencing financial challenges. That’s one of the struggles I faced when I was trying to save. A lot of financial advice was tied to certain standards society expects… but everybody has different needs and situations; we can’t all fit ourselves into those boxes.”

With this in mind, Sokunbi encourages women to set aside societal expectations and define their financial success based on personal goals. “You don’t have to have gotten married, have kids and have your white house with a picket fence,” says Sokunbi. “You do the things that make you happy. That’s the whole point of building financial wellness – your money is a tool to accomplish your goals.”

Hard lessons can be the most informative ones

Financial coach and founder of City Girl Savings, Raya Reaves has experienced several financial setbacks. Nevertheless, she has used the lessons learned from tough mistakes to propel future success – moving from struggling to pay rent to running a successful financial planning service for women.

“I think when I had my wake-up call, I was walking in from work… I remember walking into my apartment from the parking complex, and I see a sign on the door that says ‘you have three days to pay or you have to get out’. It was a Monday, and payday was a Friday. I didn’t have it in three days, I needed five,” Reaves recounts. “I realized I can’t live life and enjoy myself and not have a roof over my head.”

Empowered by this harsh reality, Reaves dedicated herself to improving her financial health. “I went full-time, started saving money regularly, got caught up on my bills and did everything I knew I should have been doing,” she remembers.

Eventually, her financial success did a 180, and Reaves launched City Girl Savings to help other women do the same. “Something clicked, and I thought… ‘if I of all people can do this, I can help other women do this,’” she describes.

Make long-lasting, personal connections to boost yourself and others

Serving as an inspiration to aspiring female entrepreneurs, Abby Frimpong is filled with advice for women working to break the glass ceiling and achieve personal success. Frimpong is the founder of crowdfunding app Duuple, providing users with a unique way to raise money for the causes they believe in.

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As Frimpong has achieved success in her business, she has never forgotten the roadblocks she and other women have had to overcome to reach those peaks. “At my organization, we affirm, celebrate and examine the unique experiences of everyone including all minorities and disadvantaged groups who are regularly left out of American culture. We have to do our homework, over-prepare and then march ahead with no apologies,” says Frimpong.

Frimpong notes that the key to empowerment that lasts generations comes from personal connections, and she encourages “the next generation of women to know that in a time where everything can become disposable, [they should] take the time for human interaction.”

The more we make these interpersonal connections, the better overall world we create for female businesswomen, says Frimpong. “Women in positions of power have to start reaching out and supporting other women and men who are looking to improve… even if it’s simply to shed light on a different perspective. Small steps can be taken by everyone to become more inclusive,” she asserts.

Representation is paramount to women’s success

Another female financial role model has served as a warrior for female financial education. Angela Ribuffo, president and financial adviser at Raion Financial Strategies and former president of Women in Insurance and Financial Services, sees the lack of women in financial services as a serious impediment to our success.

“When it comes to women in our business, we haven’t moved the dial in decades as far as bringing on new women. It’s not so much just bringing them on and attracting them to the business. We’re not retaining them… People like to do business with people who look like them – who can relate to them – and women are really good at relationship building,” Ribuffo notes.

To combat this, Ribuffo has worked to engage women who come to her for financial advice. “I told my women clients all the time – there are no stupid questions. My hope is that the more you come in, the more questions you ask, the more comfortable you’ll be. What I’m seeing is that they tend to become more risk-tolerant because they’re beginning to understand how things work,” she describes.

She hopes that the finance field will soon embrace the importance of female representation, asserting that “if we have more women, we will move the dial as far as the industry’s concerned; but we’ll also help more women.”

How to incorporate these lessons into your own life

  • Be an ally for other women working toward financial independence. Offer any advice from your own experiences and support their success.
  • Use your own metrics to track your financial success. We can learn a lot from other women, but when we compare success against goals predetermined by society, it can impede our progress.
  • Take setbacks in stride and use them as a learning experience. Whether from a high bill from accruing interest, a loan you should have avoided, a career setback or any other financial hardship, there is always a lesson we can learn to improve our future well-being.
  • Don’t discount human connection. The deeper personal experience we develop with women working toward the same goal, the more we can empower one another.
  • Support representation. We learn best from those who share our interests, so we need to ensure that financial advice is all-inclusive and varied to all kinds of experiences.

Building a community of powerful women and learning from one another

These stories are just a sampling of many incredible women we can learn financial lessons from. To achieve true female financial empowerment, we need to constantly learn from one another – and share the lessons we’ve gleaned from our own personal experience.

As we continue the To Her Credit series, we’ll feature more advice from inspirational role models in order to encourage financial success for all women. If you have a story about your relationship with finance to share or any questions, contact us at tohercredit@creditcards.com.

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Published: September 30, 2019

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