Over the past couple of months, I have been on tour for my Future of Accounting podcast. I partnered with Avalara, a sales tax compliance technology, to host eleven shows in seven cities. The attendees are primarily financial professionals ranging from CPAs to bookkeepers to investment advisors. It has been a dream come true to be able to travel, share my ideas and message to large groups of people and connect with folks from various walks of life. It’s inspiring to hear the attendees stories of launching their own businesses and their success journeys.
After I present, I try to stay in the city for another day to check out their culture and connect with the locals. Naturally, the best place to strike up a conversation is at the bar. Whether I’m at the Roaring Fork in Austin or the Aluel Cellars in Seattle, it’s inevitable that I’ll find someone to talk to…specifically about money and their relationship with it.
Take Katie* for instance. She sat down next to me at a fabulous bar in Seattle. I was sipping on a pineapple mimosa, naturally, while she ordered a Chardonnay. Her outfit was impeccable! Valentino pumps, a Marc Jacobs bag, a crisp white Karina Grimaldi jumpsuit and beautiful dangle earrings. Her nails were polished a light bubblegum pink and she rocked a ginormous (!) wedding ring. We exchanged smiles and started chatting.
She shared that she was originally from Walnut Creek, a posh neighborhood in the affluent Bay Area of California, and had relocated to Seattle to live with her then boyfriend, now husband. After talking about all the fun sites in Seattle, the conversation switched to our careers.
“I’m a blogger. I blog about money.” - I said.
Whenever I share that I’m a money blogger, the conversation goes one of two ways. Either it ends abruptly. Or, the other person is intrigued and wants to chat all things money.
Thankfully Katie fell into the latter group
She confided that she had been laid off from her job in tech a couple of weeks ago and was nervous about her finances. She had been the breadwinner for her family and they were planning on purchasing a home and starting a family soon. Since she had been working in the tech industry and had been earning around $170,000 per year, she had fallen into the habit of spending however much she wanted, whenever she needed. Giving little thought to budgeting or being mindful about her spending. And although her husband was very supportive, they had ample savings and her parents to fall back on, Katie was feeling extremely stressed, anxious and unsure of her future.
When I asked her how much the main household expenses were, she had no clue. Then I asked her what she wanted to do with her next step. She shared that a lot of her friends had suggested that she start her own consulting practice or some sort of business, but she had no idea how to get started. And she was concerned that she wasn’t in a financial position to take a leap of faith to start business.
“I’d love to do my own thing. I want to be independent, call the shots, choose who I work with and who I don’t, but I don’t even know where to start. And I’d want to have a nest egg built up before I take that risky leap.”
Katie is one of countless women I’ve met in this same position. Raised wealthy, very career driven and successful, with everything running smoothly in their life.
Until, an unexpected and unfortunate situation happens. And then they are confronted with the harsh reality that they do not have the skills or confidence they need to be financially independent.
Here’s the thing. While not everyone should start and run their own business full-time, relying solely on your job (or spouse) as the one source of income is more risky than starting a business. Especially when you don’t have the tools and confidence to pick up the pieces in the event that the company lays you off or downsizes.
Being financially independent is not a specific number and it does not mean that you are jet-setting to the Caribbean every weekend. Financial independence means that you are in control of your destiny, you have the ability to generate the income you need to live life exactly as you please.
It takes confidence and mad money skills to be financially independent. I told Katie that a great place to start would be to calculate how much she needed each month to live her life. Include nail and hair appointments, gym membership, happy hour, and the essentials like rent/mortgage, car payment, groceries, etc. Knowledge is power. And when you know your number, you can start to plan accordingly.
Aim to save three to six months of living expenses. Take the number you just calculated, times it by three and set a goal to have that saved by a certain date. Then, multiply that number by six and set a goal to have that saved by a later date. I am a huge fan of the high-yield savings account from Radius Bank. The bank is completely virtual and currently has one of the highest interest rates on the market.
Write down five to ten ways you could make an extra $1,000 this month. Could you sell clothes? Offer graphic design services on the side or do photography? If you practice making money when you don’t need to, you won’t feel blindsided if you find yourself in a situation when you have to make money.
Start jotting down positive affirmations about yourself in your journal and why you are resourceful, resilient and an INDEPENDENT WOMAN because...
The biggest key to being financially independent is nurturing your confidence and believing that you can take care of yourself.
To grade your financial independence, take our quiz “Are you financially independent?”.
*Name changed to protect identity
This post is in partnership with Radius Bank.