By Chelsea Feuchs, JWI Intern
Since beginning work at JWI, I have learned a lot about financial literacy. I was asked to work on our upcoming financial literacy seminar for mothers and teens, titled Life$avings. Before this assignment, I thought I was responsible with money, putting nearly all of my paychecks into a savings account. I paid my credit card bill on time and in full. Little did I know that spending and saving are only parts of the equation. If I really want to grow my money, I have to enter the world of investing.
“Investing” is a scary word for anybody, especially in this economy. Still, women have a specific relationship to stocks, IRAs, mutual funds, and more. We are taught to save up for small items, like shoes and clothes, rather than long term goals, such as housing and retirement. Essentially, we are told to buy consumer products today rather than to invest in ourselves for tomorrow.
So, you can imagine my Poppop’s surprise when I wrote him an email the other day asking for investment advice. He is the patriarch of my family, involved in all of his children’s financial wellbeing. As a man with six granddaughters and only one grandson (still only 14), I do not believe he expected such a request for a while. Never a man to be caught off guard, though, he wrote me back stating that we should sit and chat for a minimum of two hours. He is nothing if not lovingly meticulous.
As proud as I felt for reaching out, I realized I had a lot to learn before our meeting. Motivated in part by my newfound interest, but mostly by the fear of disappointing my German grandfather, I researched personal investing through my bank and Suze Orman’s website. I looked up the answers to all those questions I wanted to ask but was too lazy or embarrassed to say aloud (I finally understand what the NASDAQ actually is). Now I wait with anticipation for that first meeting which, if I know my Poppop, will be one of many we have in order to plan my financial future.
I realize, though, that not every young woman has an experience like mine. We do not all intern at women’s organizations like JWI, and many of us do not even know how to begin to take control of our assets. I encourage you to check out JWI’s Money Toolbox, to bring Life$avings to your community, and to research other resources and start investing in your future. And, of course, try to find experienced, knowledgeable people to help along the way, preferably ones who care about your independence and security as much as I know my Poppop cares about mine.