(My husband, Superman and I are working on our 1st baby (still trying). I keep having dreams about her, so I decided to prepare the way...)
There’s so much I want to share with you. There’s so much I want to protect you from, especially relating to the way you navigate your financial life. There’s a prison that the majority of us live in every day. I am not talking about being locked away in a physical prison, but about the mental prison called debt. It can drain the joy out of life, it can keep you from your dreams and destroy relationships.
Why am I telling you this?
While you’re young you’ll feel invincible.
You’ll feel there’s an entire lifetime to figure things out. You won’t understand how the decisions you make today have a huge impact on your tomorrow.
And that’s okay. It’s my job to guide you.
I know it’s not easy having a mother that’s a financial educator. You may believe that my frugal ways keep you from the things you “need”. While you’re young, you may not understand some of the decisions I make, but as you grow older, you will. It’s my job to protect you, and some of the greatest pain I have ever felt was as a direct or indirect result of poor financial choices.
I have seen friendships of over 20 years break up over finances, marriages torn apart, people bring harm to themselves or others over money… Lives literally shattered over debt.
As a financial educator, the one thing I hear the most is that they wish they were given the financial tools they needed sooner. With that being said, I want to pass down a few words of wisdom to you in this letter.
The key is moderation….
As you know, I love nice things as much the next person, but I can AFFORD them vs. just PAYING for them. How? Because I understand moderation.
At age 23 I was a preschool teacher making $39,000/year. I managed to save over $40,000 in 2 years, by NOT giving into every retail marketing campaign…
I bought my 1st home on my own without my parents at age 25 with an 802 credit score by using the $40,000 I’d saved, and by NOT giving into my desire to keep up with my friends…
Unless you’re Donald Trump’s daughter and a “small” loan equates to one million dollars, you will have to save for things.
Although I won’t be giving you a loan of one million dollars, I’ll be giving you something even better; knowledge from my life experiences. This is the knowledge my parents passed down to me and now I’m passing it on to you.
Here’s what I want you to always remember:
#1. Know Your Self-Worth. In the wise words of Iyanla Vanzant, “Comparison is an act of violence against the Self”. Keeping up with the Jones and over-prioritizing material possessions will never bring you happiness.
Companies create BILLION DOLLAR marketing campaigns that will eat you up and spit you out. Their purpose is to make you feel like you can't possibly be happy without the next, new “it” gadget, shoes, cars, and clothes. Yet the sad truth is the people who try and keep up with passing trends often end up going broke and unhappy.
Don’t let what you see on TV or social media distract you from your purpose. When you know your self-worth you won’t need to find it in a pair of shoes, new clothes, and excessive spending.
Clarity: I am not against nice things… WE have nice things. I just want you to steer clear of “things” that don’t appreciate in financial or emotional value. Those things literally take away from your future.
When you know your self-worth, you’ll learn that money is just one of the tools you can use to pursue your real passion and goals, not the goal itself.When you know your self-worth, you’ll learn that money is a tool, not the goal. Click To Tweet
#2 Use Technology to Save. You may not realize just how fortunate your generation is. You have endless technology at your disposal. There was a time when I had to physically go to a bank to manage my money; that’s not so for you.
The hardest part of saving is having the resolve to put away money before spending it. Take the thinking part out of the equation and let technology help you. Choose a percent to save every time you get paid, 20% is a good place to start. Schedule automatic transfers to your savings.
Start these savings habits early on and your money will grow abundantly. Here's a savings tool I like because it's automated, easy and fun, Digit.
#3 Build Good Credit. Your credit score will determine so many things in your life. My excellent credit didn’t happen overnight; it took time and discipline. When you go to buy a home or simple things like a cell phone plan, your credit score will determine how expensive the process will be for you. An innocent late payment can become a major setback for you, so stay focused. I have helped women in my classes go from a 400 credit score to a credit score of 700+.
Here's a free tool that I've used and shared with your aunties. It helps you to understand why your score is the number it is and how to raise it, Credit Sesame.
#4 Get a Mentor. You don’t need to be an expert in everything. When I wanted to get in better physical shape I knew nothing about fitness, so I invested in a personal trainer. It’s the same with finances. If you need help, find someone who knows their stuff. Even though I’m in the industry, I still have financial advisors. As your mom and a financial educator, of course I will help you with this too.
#5 Be Less Impulsive. Always shop smart and sleep on big purchases. When we vacation as a family we spend as much as 50% less than people who are in the exact same resorts and flights because I hunt for deals and use cash back programs on free sites like Groupon and Ebates. These opportunities for savings can easily be overlooked if you rush to a decision. Persistence + patience = savings.
#6 Diversify and Start Investing Early. Last, but not least, never put all your eggs in one basket. Multiple sources of income are essential. I lost my job at 29 and by 30 years old I was back at home living with grandma and grandpa. I couldn’t find another job and I ran through all of my savings. It was only then I realized the significance of earning money in multiple ways.
The average American millionaire has 7-streams of income. The more ways you can create income streams, the better. If you take anything away from this lesson, know that no job is guaranteed. Build up your savings cushion and have a fall back plan for income.
Also, start investing early. There is always a learning curve with every new skill you acquire. Investing may seem confusing at first, but with practice, you'll get the hang of it. Start with free resources like this free, personalized investment plan from Ellevest.
Remember, the earlier you start, the less you have to invest to build wealth.
One more thing: I want you to know how proud I am of you. I’ve been proud of you since the minute you were born. You will always have me by your side.
Mommy is not perfect. I have had plenty of struggles, but I have learned from them. Know that I’ve rebounded from rock bottom. At 32 years old I had a NEGATIVE net worth of over $300,000 (mortgage, credit cards, student loans). Now at age 38, my net worth is 7-figures.
The journey has not been easy, but it has been worth it.
You will get knocked down in life. There’s no question about that. It’s how you get back up that counts.
Hey Dream Catcher, thank you for taking the time to read my letter to Layla. Please forward it to a young woman you know. Together we can change the direction our younger "sisters" take by simply showing up and sharing.A heartfelt letter for young women about money, self-worth, and purpose. Click To Tweet
Also, I created a number of free, financial resources with my sisters, future daughter and you in mind; the Live Richer Challenges. These FREE, online, financial challenges were made to help women achieve their financial goals with daily, step-by-step guidance, patience, and love.
There are over 600,000 Dream Catchers (members) that have already used the Challenges to work toward a better life. Choose one and join us here: LIVE RICHER CHALLENGES.
Do you have any advice for Layla or feedback on my letter? I'd love to hear from you in the comments.
My Lisa Rule: I have 4 sisters and Lisa is the baby (well she’s not a baby anymore). Of all of my sisters, I’m the most protective of her. Before I share any product or service with you, it must pass my Lisa Rule.
What’s the Lisa Rule? Lisa is a Dream Catcher and follows the advice I give here as well. If I would not advise Lisa to use a product or service, I won’t advise you to. YOU are my Lisas. I feel protective of you and your financial journey.
All of the resources I mention above pass my Lisa Rule. Some of the tools are also affiliate partners, but I would not recommend a product or service that I didn’t believe was helpful and useful.