The Financially Savvy Female had the opportunity to chat with Stefanie O’Connell Rodriguez, host of Real Simple Magazine’s “Money Confidential” podcast and founder of the weekly “Too Ambitious” newsletter, which covers ambition, money and the power. Here, we talk with O’Connell Rodriguez about her own personal financial journey and how women can boost their financial confidence and knowledge.
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What was the most impactful decision you made to get out of the paycheck cycle and be able to afford the life you want?
Make more money, no doubt. I would have become a pro at managing what I earned and finding ways to be frugal, but you can’t be frugal to get rich.
What steps should all women follow to build their financial confidence?
I’m a big fan of learning by doing. One of the biggest hurdles I find people face with their money is not making the optimal choice with their investment strategy or their debt repayment journey or budget, so they end up doing nothing at all, stuck in analysis paralysis, overwhelmed, etc.
To break through this and gain confidence, I prefer to start small. With investing, for example, it might be contributing 1% of every paycheck to a 401(k) and then using those small contributions to learn along the way as questions arise: what is a brokerage house? What is an index fund? What is Asset Allocation? etc I find the answers to these questions much easier to process when you use them for practical application. And this practical application can help boost not only your skills, but also your confidence. Even if you don’t make the 100% most optimal choice – if you make the 50% optimal choice – it’s usually better than doing nothing, and you’ll probably learn something along the way.
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What area of finance do you think all women should strive for?
I find that all genders generally feel the least informed about investing, although women report feeling even less confident than men – likely due to the pay gap and therefore having less money, they feel they can’t afford the “risk”, not to mention the male-dominated wealth management industry.
To develop this knowledge, I find it helpful to create a community with people who are working towards similar goals and who share similar values - whether it’s a friend you can talk to about your hesitations or an online forum where you connect with others who are facing similar challenges, such as balancing investment and student loan repayment or saving for the kids’ college education while funding your own retirement. I know that many of the “noisiest” investing dialogues – like NFT, crypto and the day trading dialogue of 2021 – may seem off-putting to many, but I encourage everyone to find the conversations and communities that resonate with them.
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Jaime Catmull contributed reporting for this article.
This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: ‘Start small’ if you’re intimidated by investing, says Money Confidential’s Stefanie O’Connell Rodriguez