Issue #25 / October 20, 2017
✨ Catch up on what ya missed this week ✨
We have been hard at work at She Spends making major revamps on everything from our mission statement to our social media strategy. You'll notice some changes around the newsletter: a new #loosechange section for all the odds and ends we publish on our blog, as well as shorter sections (that you can continue reading on our website). We're working on more major changes, like adding a contributor network. Stay tuned!
WOMEN Share stories of sexual assault and harassment with #metoo
- OTHER HARVEYS: It's been tough to look away from all the Harvey Weinstein news over the past few weeks. We're glad it's coming to light, but we recognize the pain many survivors are feeling right now. Molly Ringwald's piece for The New Yorker, All The Other Harvey Weinsteins, was especially striking for us.
- #METOO: Erin Lowry of Broke Millennial shared a post on the intersection of #metoo and money that resonated. Check it out.
- BEAUTY TECH: More than 60% of Sephora's tech employees are women, The Wall Street Journal reports.
- FAST FOOD: Fast food was created by and for men... so where do women fit in? Buzzfeed asks.
- STEEL WORK: This New York Times piece follows a woman who landed a job in the steel industry to escape from her abusive boyfriend. It details how the industry saved her before the plant moved to Mexico.
- BLACK MONDAY: This Bloomberg retrospective on Black Monday, the day 30 years ago when the stock market fell 23%, is terrifically reported and can teach us a lot about the markets.
CARMILLA TAN ON FINDING YOUR MENTOR (AND EVENTUALLY, BECOMING ONE)
Finding mentorship and receiving peer guidance can be difficult for women. Unlike men, women tend not to ask for these mentoring experiences and rely on different forms of networking. She Spends sat down with Carmilla Tan, senior vice president of analytics at Brighton Health Plan Solutions, to discuss how women should network and find mentors.
Can you speak to the importance of women mentoring women and why it’s important?
Years ago, when I worked for a consulting firm, there was a woman who pulled me aside when I got pregnant and said, “Regardless of what these nice guys tell you, never bring your baby in because people will not be able to get that mental image out of their minds of you being able to stay late and getting that cushy assignment.” I know the world has changed since then, but I really appreciated that advice. When you think about some of the pitfalls that women navigate from, why reinvent the wheel?
Why aren’t women asking for mentorship?
It goes back to not being shy. Especially women, we have a tendency not to ask for help because of pride and to be stronger than guys. Guys have their networks too. We’re probably just not aware. It could be tennis or golf or whatever. I found that if I could do this again, I would have asked earlier.
THE WEIGHT LOSS INDUSTRY IS EXPLOITING WOMEN. HERE'S HOW WE CAN CHANGE THAT
How many times have you decided to go on a diet? For me, it’s certainly been too many times to count. Eventually, my diet and severe food allergies led to an eating disorder, which is a story so many women can tell.
Of course, the issue is systemic. Our desire to lose weight comes from many sources. We can choose to blame magazines, our mothers, the scale or mean boys on the playground, but we should also take a look at the way the weight-loss industry, one that has been steeped in sexism for years, is taking advantage of one of our greatest insecurities.
Take, for example, Weight Watchers. The company has created a program based on denying yourself a basic need - food - and profits as your dress size drops. To be sure, the program works, and it’s safer than many other cleanses and supplements on the market. But make no mistake, the company profits from your choice to remain in the program.
When you leave after reaching your achieved goal, Weight Watchers isn’t so worried. Why? It’s basic science - most diet programs, including Weight Watchers, cause you to gain the weight (and more) back when you stop using them. And so, a diet empire now worth $3.06 billion is born.
What makes it worse is that the Weight Watchers’ board is dominated by men; of the 11-person board, just three members are women.
Of course, this is only one in a sea of companies and programs urging us to lose weight.
Taffy Brodesser-Akner wrote a moving piece in The New York Times this August about how frequently women “fail” with these programs and the problems with the science around why people gain weight. She also touched upon the language companies use to sell their programs to us over time and how it has changed to focus on wellness.
Lean Cuisine, peddler of frozen meals with calories counts inappropriate for most adults, has declared itself an “ally for women’s wellness.” Special K has declared that “women are strong,” while selling a Special K challenge that involves replacing two meals out of your day with its own products.
The truth is that these companies are selling us something that we truly don’t need: different bodies than our own.
There are ways we can fight back against this nonsense. Choosing to see a body positive nutritionist about what you put on your plate is a positive first step. Maven is a great service for nutrition appointments at a low cost. Beyond that, looking into Health at Every Size and intuitive eating are major ways you can shift your thinking about food and weight.
From a money perspective, take a look at how you are spending your monthly grocery budget. Is it supporting companies like these? Can you consider shifting your spending around to focus on vegetables and fruits that you love, with occasional treats?
If all of these suggestions are things you already do, take a look at your portfolio. Does it invest in companies like Weight Watchers, Herbalife or other major weight-loss programs? You can shift that money around.
Finally, there’s a ton of resources out there to help you get started. Some of my favorites include Beauty Redefined, the She’s All Fat Podcast and Project HEAL. Most importantly, be kind to yourself.
How a 33-year-old Dallas-based investment director spends:
- SALARY: I make $111,556 per year as an investment director at an endowment in Dallas, Texas. I have asked for a raise before. It was a moot point, though, because they promoted me. I am about to ask again in six months (at my new company) to bring my pay in line with my qualifications.
- SAVINGS: I have $15,773.20 in my savings account right now.
- MONTHLY EXPENSES: I spend $1,550 each month on a mortgage. I pay for my health insurance and contribute to my 401(k). Each month I pay for a barre studio membership, Rent the Runway and iTunes.
- DEBT: I am in debt. I am paying it off by managing and reducing expenses. I work in investments, so I beat myself up mercilessly for some of the decisions I made. Looking back, I wish I would have accepted the facts and moved forward more quickly.
- INVESTING: I have a Fidelity brokerage account through which I regularly invest. Conventional wisdom says that since I’m young, so I should have an 80% or more of my long-term assets in equities. However, given my profession, I know that markets are at an all-time high with a lot of unknowns. All this to say, I manage the $60,000 or so I have in longer-term investments using the endowment model. I built an asset allocation and model portfolio in Excel, researched funds carefully and now rebalance my portfolio two to four times per year. Invest in what you know.
- SPENDING VICTORY: I spend $170/month for a membership to a local fitness class. It feels unnecessary, especially when compared to ClassPass or Equinox, but I started going during the height of a stressful period at work while going through a divorce. It’s the best way I’ve found to help manage my stress. I use it three to five times per week, so my average cost per class is under $10.
- SPENDING REGRET: I needed a new car, so I did my research online and settled on a used SUV. (So practical!). I went to the dealership (think foreign, luxury cars) with my down payment and immediately fell in love with a brand new sports Sedan almost double the price of the used SUV. Long story short, I leased it. I didn’t read the fine print, so when I return the car in a year (no asset!) I’ll have to pay $3,000 or more due to mileage overages. I learned so many lessons from this: 1) When you make a plan, stick to it. 2) Read the fine print. 3) If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 4) Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Ultimately, I can cover the charges and I’ve enjoyed my car, but the experience wasn’t worth it for me.
- CHARITY: The last charities I contributed to were the Genesis Women's Shelter and The Birthday Party Project.
- GOALS: My main goal is rebuilding the assets side of my balance sheet. I raided my brokerage and retirement accounts to the tune of $80,000 to support a business that wasn’t mine and avoid lifestyle changes while I was in business school. Post-divorce, my financial security felt comprised, so I’ve been working diligently to reclaim it. My 2017 goals include building up six months of expenses in cash (which I’ve almost done) and renegotiating my salary closer to the market rate. In the next one to five years, I plan to pay off my debt completely, buy more real estate and continue teaching my daughter solid saving habits. I want to learn more about how to replicate the volatility and return profile of hedge funds and other alternatives in more liquid investment strategies.
- FACEBOOKIN': We started a Facebook group. Join the conversation!
- TRAVEL MONEY DIARIES: Rachel K., one of our readers, went to San Francisco - and dropped some serious cash on coffee.
- FOUNDERS' MEETUP: Our She Spends Summit was a success. Check out our new and improved mission statement and values.
- EVENTS: We have two events coming up at Shaktibarre in Brooklyn. Be sure to sign up ahead of time - we can't wait to see you there!