Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership

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by Manisha Thakor & Sharon Kedar, Woodhull Alumnae

Spend to Save!

Spend to Save!

We’re here to let you in on a secret. Saving money is not about depriving yourself of fun today. It’s about having money to spend in the future. People who engage in regular saving live their lives from a position of financial strength. They can enjoy the present AND have confidence in their ability to handle whatever tomorrow brings. But don’t just take our word for it. Let’s look at Amy’s experience…

On Monday morning Amy hopped into her car to head off to work. Unfortunately, the engine started to make the kind of noise that gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “shake, rattle, and roll.” Amy took her car to a mechanic and left with a whopper of a repair bill. End of story? Nope, it was just the beginning – because Amy had no savings and her credit cards were maxed out.

Sadly, Amy’s saga is far too common. The Consumer Federation of America reports that the average person incurs roughly $2,000 of “unexpected” expenses a year. However, many people have less than that in savings. For instance, the average woman between the ages of 24 – 35 has less than $500 in savings. With no financial safety net, all it takes is one faulty engine to send your finances into a financial tailspin.

Saving, once a time-honored practice amongst previous generations, seems to have gone the way of transistor radios and black and white television sets. These days, collectively as a nation, we save practically nothing. This means that if you are not saving anything today, you are far from alone. Now here’s the good news: simply acknowledging the importance of saving is a HUGE first step.

When it comes to saving, your initial goal is to create an emergency fund. Start by striving to save $2,000 in a separate savings account (so you are not tempted to spend it…). To find the extra money to save, take a good hard look at your spending and see if there are any items you can cut back on. How many channels on that cable package do you really watch? Can you bring your lunch to work or cut back on take-out dinners? These are the kinds of questions that can help you free up some extra cash for your emergency fund. Once you achieve that $2,000 hurdle, continue to grow your emergency fund until it can cover three to six months of living expenses. You’d be amazed how much stress this pot of savings can relieve. Once you have an emergency fund, unlike Amy, you will be ready for the unexpected.

When you achieve this goal, it’s time to congratulate yourself. Seriously. You’ll be miles ahead of the typical American with regards to your financial security. The next stop on your journey to financial strength is to save for “big-ticket” items (such as a down payment for a car or house, a vacation, etc.) and for your retirement. As a rough rule of thumb, you should set aside 5% of your gross (i.e. before-tax) income for your combined emergency fund / big-ticket items and at least 10% of your gross income for retirement. Regularly doing this will put you on the path to financial nirvana.

If you are just getting started on a saving program, being told to save 15% of your income may feel like being told to just go out and climb Mount Everest. Don’t despair! It’s important to realize that 15% is your end goal, not your starting goal. Start small – with that $2,000 emergency fund – and with perseverance and determination, you can slowly build your way up from there. See www.OnMyOwnTwoFeet.com for more information.

Category : News | Blog

by Manisha Thakor & Sharon Kedar, Woodhull Alumna



The next time you see someone decked out in the latest trendy outfit or driving a flashy new SUV, don’t assume that they have it all figured out, financially speaking. A shocking number of Americans are projecting images with their possessions that are miles beyond what their pocketbooks can afford. But don’t take our word for it – consider the cold, hard facts: Over 70 percent (yes, 70 percent!) of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck. The bottom line is that despite outward appearances of “affluence” over two-thirds of Americans are financially unfit.

Believe it or not, you just learned one of the keys to achieving financial success. Money insight number one is this: When it comes to a person’s financial situation, all too often things are not what they seem. In Texas, this phenomenon is colorfully referred to as “big hat, no cattle.” Trust us, you’d be simply amazed at how many people project outward images of prosperity when in the privacy of their own homes money issues are stressing them out like nobody’s business.

Against the backdrop of the current economic turmoil, millions of men and women are starting to realize that they need a good financial tune up. While a solid grasp of the basic of personal finance are important to both genders, it’s extra important for us ladies. Why? Because all too often it’s women who are left holding the purse strings at the end of the day. Did you know that over 90 percent of women will find themselves the sole keepers of their personal finances at some point in their lives?

You deserve the comfort of knowing – whether single or coupled up – that you are living your life from a position of financial strength. The good news is that contrary to popular perception, getting into financial shape is not complex. Despite all the fancy strategies discussed on television and in the papers, when you boil it down, the basic recipe for financial success is pretty straightforward:

  1. learn to live within your means
  2. invest your savings wisely
  3. and protect yourself against the unforeseen

In our subsequent blog posts we will strive to help you understand the key steps you need to take to achieve these three objectives. If thinking about money feels scary or overwhelming, know that you are not alone. Since personal finance is one of those things, like parenting, that you are just supposed to learn “as you go along,” literally millions of people end up feeling lost in a sea of financial confusion. It doesn’t have to be this way. Learning – and acting on – a few simple financial lessons will put you firmly on the path to financial empowerment. Now that’s a gift to yourself that will keep on giving! See www.OnMyOwnTwoFeet.com for more information.

Category : News | Blog
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