Money is a loaded topic for almost everyone—how much you have, how much you want, even how much you know about it.
The intricacies of that conversation vary from person to person. But after advising thousands of clients, Barbara Ginty, a certified financial planner in New York City, began to spot certain patterns—and saw that women tended to underestimate their financial capabilities. “Women will come in and say, ‘This is a dumb question’ or ‘I don’t understand it,’ but men rarely start the conversation that way,” she says.
Intent on reaching a wider audience beyond her clients, friends, and family, Ginty created a podcast, Planancial, to empower women to take control of their financial lives. Each episode features a conversation with a different anonymous female guest, where Ginty digs deep and demystifies the woman’s money matters, and offers advice on everything from saving more money to paying off student loan debt to allocating funds.
“Women talk about everything else, but no one talks about money,” she says. That’s changing—slowly. Aminatou Sow, founder of Tech LadyMafia and co-host of the podcast Call Your Girlfriend, recently took to Twitter to encourage salary transparency, asking, “How do you know what your work is worth or if you’re being underpaid or if someone is giving you a fair shake if you don’t have a clue about what amounts we’re actually dealing with here?”
Ginty herself has been comfortable talking about money from an early age. She spent her childhood stuffing envelopes and learning about compound interest in her family’s financial-planning practice. At age 12, she got a job at a bakery, waking up at 5 a.m. to head to the “office.”
Today Ginty, a longtime member at New York City’s WeWork 401 Park Ave S, has her own financial firm with outposts in Manhattan and Kingston, New York. She also teaches in person and online classes at SUNY Ulster on topics like tackling student loans and becoming a “financial rock star.” It’s one more way for her to spread the word of financial literacy.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur or cubicle careerist, being financially educated is critical to success, says Ginty, who notes that more than 70 percent of people in the U.S. are living paycheck to paycheck. “People always want 20 percent more than what they have,” she says.
Surprisingly, Ginty says that having more money isn’t the answer; in her experience, the people who are happiest with their money tend to be the ones who stick to a budget no matter how much money is coming in.
But for everyone, having a healthy relationship with money starts with the right mind-set. “To achieve your goals, it pays to catch up or get ahead of the game,” says Ginty. “The sooner you learn about money, the sooner you can get future-rich.” Her tips should get you started.
Rethink your to-do list. Despite studies ranking money as a bigger source of anxiety than even one’s health, most people never prioritize managing it, whether by setting up a 401K or automating savings transfers. Ginty acknowledges that these moves don’t lead to instant gratification—so she urges women to think about future successes. How would it feel to have your loans paid off? Stick to a plan and by this time next year, that can be a reality.
Talk to your colleagues. Pay disparity in the workplace is a major issue, and one solution is to simply talk. “I definitely advocate that women are transparent with one another in regards to salary,” says Ginty. “Knowledge is power, and being able to talk openly with your close friends and colleagues—male or female—about salary can help you better advocate for yourself.”
Follow the trail. Do you know your gross salary? Your monthly expenses—from rent to recurring subscriptions? “Know what’s coming in, where it’s going, and whether your spending is serving a purpose,” she says. Analyze your credit, debit, and bank statements, and track your expenses with apps, or even on paper.
Mix up your strategies. Your money’s purpose is up to you—and so are the savings tricks you can use. If you want to save $50 a week, stop buying lunch at work—or pick up a part-time job. Use your personality type and schedule to help formulate your strategy.
Create a five-year plan. Ginty suggests taking a macro view of the situation and considering your long-term future. Plotting a path to big dreams like buying a place to live or retiring super-early can give you a roadmap and help make daily changes more palatable.
Divvy up your wins. When your salary increases, your lifestyle increases at the same rate, often without you realizing. Scored a big raise? Great! Now, Ginty says, “hide” your money from yourself. Split the extra—put half in a 401K or IRA so you don’t have access to it, and dedicate the other half to your five-year plan.
Start your emergency fund. You need a big ol’ pile of money you can tap into in worst-case scenarios—in cash, says Ginty, not the stock market. “I want it to do nothing,” she says, because when you do need the money, the market will inevitably be down. Strive to save three to six months of living expenses, but don’t get overwhelmed by a huge number: “It’s better to start with something than with nothing.”
Prepare for April 15. This tax year, standard deductions have doubled to $12,000, and if you operate a pass-through entity like an S-Corp, you’ll get a 20 percent deduction. Don’t leave filing until the last minute. And before you receive your tax refund, plan exactly what you’ll do: Pay down debt? Boost your emergency fund? Earmarking your refund’s purpose will counter the urge to splurge.
Interested in becoming a guest on Barbara Ginty’s Planancial podcast? You have total freedom to talk about whatever you want. Learn how to be a guest.