On Creating She Spends

I used to be really bad with money. As a business reporter, it’s hard to admit, even now that I’ve gotten it together.

By day, I would write stories on how stock pickers could mindfully invest in the market; yet by night, I would spend up to my credit card limit on shoes, bags or drinks out. After a year of living in New York, I had no savings, let alone extra cash to invest in the stock market I was writing about.

I knew something had to change, so I started talking about money with my friends and co-workers, most of whom were women and dealing with similar struggles. I was relieved to finally wonder out loud if I was really being paid too little or if having no money in my savings was normal. 

As I slowly began to get my own finances together, I knew I wanted to share what I was learning with others, especially other women. The women’s personal finance media market, though, is woefully lacking. Most books or websites use infantilizing language like “bawse bitch” or feature roundups suggesting readers buy more stuff to create the perfect workspace. It’s maddening, and quite frankly, much of that content is useless to women looking for real information on money and finance. 

At the same time, I had about a year in the financial journalism industry under my belt. I talked to so many men as sources for stories, but very few women. The few conversations I had with women who were analysts or lawyers in the industry left me feeling excited about my work, rather than frustrated that I had been talked down to, again. I, frankly, was tired of the boys club. I wanted to make it so that Wall Street would be more welcoming down the road. 

This is how She Spends was born. It's a blend of personal finance and the big money picture. In creating She Spends, I hope to create a community of women who not only want to work on their own bank accounts, but also to tackle the major issues keeping women from achieving financial parity. 

Women, especially us millennials, have specific needs when it comes to both financial news and personal finance. Women are more risk averse than men and invest at a much lower rate. As a result, a huge part of what She Spends does is introduce women and nonbinary people to ways they can test the stock market’s waters without a ton of risk. We also break down major quarterly earnings to familiarize our readers with stocks traded on the public markets. 

Women also experience sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. So we highlight macro solutions to these problems (think: new laws and regulations) while offering solutions to our readers to tackle these problems every day. 

Women face cultural expectations to spend more money on our looks (a phenomenon also known as the pink tax). What’s more is that many of us spend extra money to have a menstrual cycle (why are tampons so expensive?) and to either avoid or bring on pregnancy. These cultural phenomena contribute to our understanding of money. We’re more likely to spend more on clothes and other “unnecessary” items. And yet, if we decided to take time off to have children, we have less time to save for retirement. In response, we offer actionable information for our readers to slow their roll when it comes to shopping, while funneling that extra cash into a retirement fund. Additionally, we highlight discrepancies like these on a policy level.

Because women are rarely seen as equals in the workplace, we are still unable to reach the upper echelons of Fortune 500 companies. Just 31 of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are women. In the words of Marie Wilson, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” So we feature women at the top making a difference each week in our newsletter. 

And don’t forget women still make less money than men. White women make 79 cents to every white man’s dollar, while black women make just 63 cents and Latina women make 55 cents on that dollar. This, in 2017, is unacceptable. So we’re talking about it. 

We’re here, working to reduce the wage gap, investing gap and board seat gap, one woman at a time. Our newsletter breaks it down for our subscribers each week.

We have big plans for She Spends. We’re going to launch a podcast and a digital book club in September. We have plans to start an exclusive ambassador program and will soon be hosting events in New York (and hopefully throughout the United States). 

- Alicia 🐶