Issue #105/ June 14, 2019
✨ Catch up on what ya missed this week ✨
Wall Street's Men Are Struggling To Take Paid Family Leave, While Its Women are Suing Goldman Sachs
PERSONAL FINANCE SCAM: A writer for GQ penned a smart essay on what the personal finance industry needs to do to be better.
MILLENNIAL ART: White millennial women who write books and television shows centered on asshole women are having a moment in the media. But at what cost? asks Another Gaze.
EMAIL RESPONSES: Illustrator Dani Donovan has a fantastic comic on how to respond to emails like a boss. Definitely saving this one.
PARENTAL LEAVE: Dads on Wall Street are struggling to take their parental leave, Bloomberg reports.
RESISTING: A group of women suing Goldman Sachs for gender discrimination are refusing to settle out of court with the bank, according to Bloomberg.
THERANOS: What happens to your resume when you work for a company like Theranos? One Quartz reporter found out.
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Amanda Frankel on Her Campaign To Primary Jerry Nadler
Amanda Frankel, a Democrat from Kensington, New York, recently announced that she’s running against incumbent Representative Jerry Nadler in the primary in New York District 10.
She’s a bit of a wunderkind: at age 25, she’s the youngest woman to ever file to run for office federally. She’s worked on Wall Street and in cryptocurrency and has had a robust political life so far, organizing get out the vote initiatives and teaching folks financial literacy.She also has an adorable rescue dog, a terrier mix, who she regularly shares with her followers online.
Frankel sat down with She Spends to discuss her campaign, which includes fighting for equal pay and equal work. Read on to learn more.
(editor’s note: this interview has been edited and condensed for clarity).
What made you decide to run for office?
I have no background in politics. I am not wealthy, I am not part of the New York City elite. I live in an apartment in Kensington. The campaign came out of this growing gut feeling that I wasn’t being represented. I grew up as one of four kids with a single mom, now one of seven with my step-sisters. I was always acutely aware of money. I started working was 12 years old.
Inequality is growing, not shrinking. We’re looking at potentially devastating climate change happening in our lifetimes. The politicians out there now are not fighting for you and me, they’re fighting for the corporations that finance them. If I don’t feel represented, my community probably doesn’t either. After speaking with people in the community, I felt like it was time to run.
What were you doing before you decided to run for office?
I worked for Stoic Capital. The things about crypto and blockchain that always excited me were how you could use them to solve big problems like creating sovereign identity, or using blockchain for microgrids. I was attracted to that space very early on. The things that came out of the crypto space for me was this idea that we were living in the 21st century and we need to address our 21st-century problems. In the industry, there’s an ethos of being open and transparent.
Was the decision not to take corporate PAC money easy? How did you know it made sense for you?
The idea of not taking corporate money was an easy decision. There’s a wave of people in my district and in the country believe that the government is not working for them. It’s an intimidating decision. Your campaign is run entirely differently. We focus more on community centers, volunteers and engaging folks on the ground level. People have to buy into your mission and be aligned with it.
Your opponent is Jerry Nadler, who has been in Congress for quite some time, and seems to be getting a lot of press because of his role on the Judiciary Committee. Why are you a better candidate for New York 10 than he is?
This is my district. This is my home. If I’m going to run, I’m not going to move districts to challenge someone easier. That’s not why I’m doing this. Jerry Nadler has been in Congress since 1993. That’s coming up on 26 years. He has been in office longer than I’ve been alive. The way that these political dynasties come into place and rule over everyone is wrong. While he is progressive, he has only really had one real primary challenger. A healthy primary ensures that the interests of the government are aligned with people.
I think about things like climate. To be honest, the final decision that pushed me to run wasn’t a professional thing. It was that I sat down with my partner, and talked about how I’m afraid to have children in the world we’ve created. The permafrost has melted, the political vitriol we face is huge. That’s a scary thing to contemplate. When you think of what you need to take on those battles, you don’t need good, you need great. You need people who will make change, not people who are cosigning change. With Trump, for example, Nadler has tabled impeachment proceedings twice. Our district deserves someone who is fighting for them every minute of every day. They need a regular person who gets stuck on the F train and is dealing with mice big enough that they can eat my dog.
Why is equal pay one of your major campaign planks?
Equal pay for equal work for me is interesting. It’s just common sense. When I think about my policy platforms, I don’t think a lot of it is radical. How do we treat people fairly? There’s a pretty black and white answer to that. When we think that women of color are paid something like 62 cents on the dollar. That doesn’t make sense. Compensating people fairly makes sense. Having different people in the boardroom has better financial returns. It’s the right decision to make people’s lives better.
We’re running with three key focuses in mind: an open and honest government. It’s this crazy and revolutionary idea that our government works for us. Things like creating voter registration systems that are automatic. The second platform is the climate. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if we have an equal and fair existence if we don’t exist. We are firm supporters of the Green New Deal. I want to turn part of Rikers Island into part of a solar farm. I want to retrain workers. Anything that gets us to a world that still exists. The final platform is a safe and successful America for all. It’s a basic human right: access to housing, education, equal pay, equal protection under the law. This crazy radical idea that people should be treated fairly is key to what I’m building.
How do you manage to get everything done? Do you have specific tools that help you? Are there online resources or books that have inspired you?
The first is for better or for worse, I use my calendar to do everything. I use the free version of Headspace. I think about making mental and physical health a conscious choice something that’s active. Running a campaign takes physical and mental health. I get up at 4 or 4:30 a.m. and I don’t go to sleep around 11 p.m. I try to make time in my life for the things that matter and the people that matter. Any type of meditation is great. When I think of management tools, just using my calendar is important. Scheduling time to call friends. We’re so focused on proving ourselves, there’s a view that you can’t have your relationships to be successful. But they’re important. I called my mom for five minutes this morning, which I had scheduled into my day on my calendar.
What advice can you share with readers?
The first piece of advice is if you want to do something and someone tells you that you can’t, screw it. I’ve been told to drop out at least two dozen times to drop out. Specific to running for office, I encourage everyone to look into groups like Emily’s List, Run to Win, Vote Run Lead. I’m a big believer that if you can take a risk without worrying about getting evicted from your apartment, it’s worth the risk. Anything that uplifts yourself and other people is going to be hard work.
How can readers who are interested support your campaign?
The single easiest place to go is my campaign website. Through there you can view my biography and platform. Donate, sign up to volunteer, and there’s an Ask Amanda Anything. That goes to my inbox and I reply to those emails.
Women's Personal Finance Media Has A Problem: Diet Culture
We started She Spends with the goal of providing a space for women and non-binary folks to learn about money without being infantilized or pandered to. With this goal in mind, we try to pay a great deal of attention to the language we use to talk about money.
We previously wrote about why you’ll never see us use #girlboss or terms like it at SheSpends. But a recent Instagram post from one of our readers and fellow financial feminists, Ally-Jane Ayers, reminded us of the importance of language, particularly as it pertains to diet culture.
The post that Ayers shared, along with an eye roll emoji, is a photo of a book called “Does This Make My Assets Look Fat?: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Financial Empowerment and Success.” The book was published in 2010 and uses comparisons to dieting to teach the book’s audience (primarily women) about money.
The book isn’t alone -- there’s a world of personal finance media targeting women that uses weight loss to serve as an analogy for saving money. But what’s the big deal? What does it matter if these folks want to use a dieting analogy for money?
Well, for one, diets don’t work. While researchers have shown that folks can typically lose weight when they start a diet, they tend to gain all of it back and then some. At their best, diets feel restrictive and can lead to episodes of overindulging. At their worst, they can act as a launch-pad for eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia.
When we apply a diet framework to our financial lives, we are applying a similarly restrictive set of rules on ourselves. We can end up making the same “mistakes” that we may on a diet: sticking to it in the near term may feel good, but we eventually burn out. Instead of overeating our favorite snacks, we blow our hard-earned cash on cute clothes or a pricey night out.
What makes this sort of personal finance content worse is that it upholds diet culture.
As dietician Christy Harrison writes, diet culture rewards thinness by equating it to moral value and health. It promotes weight loss as something worth investing hours of time, money and effort into. And we buy into it: the U.S. weight loss market was worth $66 billion in 2017 according to Marketdata, a market research firm focused on the diet industry.
To put it another way, we’re putting a ton of money towards thinness that could be padding our savings accounts or paying off our student loans.
What’s perhaps worst about it is the amount of headspace thinness and dieting takes up. I’m sickened when I consider how much time I have spent in my life worrying about a 100 calorie snack pack or having to go up a bra size. And I know I’m not alone. According to a2008 study from the University of North Carolina, a whopping 75 percent of women ages 25 to 45 surveyed reported engaging in disordered eating behaviors.
We’re engaging in this culture all while it punishes and oppresses fatness. It frowns on certain ways of eating (those ways that tend to be the only ones accessible to poor folks). Diet culture is disproportionately focused on policing fat bodies, bodies of color, women’s bodies and bodies that do not neatly fit into the gender binary.
It would be easy to pretend that the use of “diet” in a book title or a weight loss comparison in an article doesn’t have an effect on how someone feels about their own body. But the point isn’t how one person feels about their body. It’s about how we as a culture think about marginalized folks, bodies and money, and how it has all become intertwined. It’s a systemic problem, and it’s important to call it out when it enters our niche.
When personal finance media uses diet analogies, it infantilizes and demeans readers. Can’t understand money? We’ll couch it in terms you can understand: weight loss.
Our audience deserves more than to be inundated by messages that encourage them to return to a place of shrinking, especially when it’s on a topic so utterly unrelated to dieting. We should be given the chance to learn about a complex, emotional topic without having to think about weight loss.
When we defined our mission and values for She Spends, we made sure to choose “body positivity” as a key belief for our brand. We didn’t expect for it to come up much: it simply meant that we wouldn’t cover weight loss and would be sure to consider all bodies when it comes to creating merch.
But as time has gone on, it has become much more to us than that: it means calling out fat-shaming memes posted by personal finance bros on Instagram (yep, we did that). It means writing articles like this about the intersection of diet culture and money. And it means you can trust that She Spends will never be a space where you’re told to be smaller.
TELL US YOUR SPENDING SECRETS!
Since the inception of She Spends, we've been sharing the spending secrets of one reader each week -- completely anonymously. During that time, 257 readers shared their money diaries. Here's what we've learned! Don't feel like your experience is represented in the data below? Fill out the money diaries survey to have your voice heard!
How a 31-year-old Brooklyn-based risk operations manager spends:
SALARY: I make $95,000 working as a risk operations manager in Brooklyn, New York. I have asked for a raise before. Usually, it takes a lot longer than I'd like—have to keep checking in for months.
SAVINGS: My emergency savings fund is $28,000, but we also have index funds and company stocks.
MONTHLY EXPENSES: My husband and I split our $3,500 monthly mortgage payment. I'm on my husband's healthcare plan, but I contribute to my own 401(k). Our other monthly payments include cable and Netflix/Sling TV, which we pay probably about $100 month for, plus a yoga studio membership, which is $280 per month.
INVESTING: I just opened a Vanguard account and started throwing money in index funds.
CHARITY: I donate to political campaigns and Planned Parenthood.
SPENDING VICTORY: Travel - that's where we allot like 5% of our money!
SPENDING REGRET: Maybe a pair of shoes that ended up hurting.
IF I WON THE LOTTERY: I'd buy a nicer apartment in the city.
GOALS: I would like to have the flexibility to retire early or rely on one less income. I'd also like to buy a weekend home.
Updates, blog posts and other important things:
FACEBOOKIN': We talked about salary negotiation in the Facebook group this week. What do you think? Join us!
SHE SPENDS x BKP: She Spends has partnered with Brooklyn Plans! Want to work with Alicia (who is a financial coach) on your financial plan? Drop us a line!
CONTRIBUTE: Support us through Patreon! Your patronage can help us continue to create tools that empower women to hammer away at the glass ceiling.
PATREON SPOTLIGHT: Shoutout to Patreon supporters Alexis Andreas, Jacob Bell, Lauren Bonner, Mimi Chiahemen, Emma Court, Rachel Creager, Shelby Eberlan, Maria Eisenberg, Gaby Garcia, Sara Guenoun, Christine Hinojosa, Ellen Kern, Tim Livingston, Duncan Magidson, Carolyn McElhaney, Hanya Moharram, Emily Munson, Gracie Raver, Julia Reinstein, Bill C. Smith, Carmilla Tan, Anita Whitmore, Dris Villaman, Ally-Jane Grossan, Fundamental Children's Books, Idalia, Kristina King, Laura Porter and Sara Rosso. Couldn't do it without you!