“If money isn't making you happier, you're spending it wrong.”
Welcome to our first Walnut Weekly Women Crush Wednesday! (Brought to you by the letter "W"...)
Recognizing that we constantly strive to surround ourselves with inspiring women, we decided to dedicate the second Walnut Weekly of every month to an interview with one such woman. And, we have to say, our first interview proved a tough act to follow.
In honor of this month's empowering Power Hour theme, we want to talk FINANCIAL PLANNING.
Be honest: Does the phrase “financial planning” make you shudder?
If you are like most women, it can feel dry and boring, completely overwhelming, and rather mysterious, leading you to simply avoid it altogether. Or, on the flip side, you might take a very detailed organizational approach full of time-consuming spreadsheets that really end up doing you very little good in the long run.
Meet Kristen Euretig, the founder and CEO of Brooklyn Plans, a financial planning company for young professional women in Brooklyn. Kristen's approach is refreshing, holistic, sustainable, and focused on helping you create “a life full of meaning”.
"Finance is really about your life vision, so connecting to that will help you make more intuitive decisions about your finances. However, putting systems in place helps it work long-term!"
Here is our conversation with her...
WHAT LED YOU TO BROOKLYN PLANS?
Teaching was my first job. We had benefits and a pension...and I was shocked that there was no, “Here’s how things work.” Nobody explains it to you! There’s a huge gap there. I started doing my own research and advising other people, and I had a knack for it, so I switched into finance. I worked with wealthier clients, but I didn’t find it fulfilling, so I moved into the nonprofit and education sectors, helping low-income New Yorkers. Luckily, New York is a state that offers quite a lot of services and counseling to lower income populations--but not much for people in the middle, which is where I turned. I decided to focus on young professionals, and, more specifically, women. There’s a real desire in this population to get things right.
WHAT DOES FINANCIAL PLANNING MEAN TO YOU?
Financial planning means bridging where you are today with where you want to be next. It could be next year, in five years, in fifty years--and it should mean all of those things. Financial planning means bridging your present with your ideal future.
WHEN WORKING WITH CLIENTS, WHERE DO YOU START?
A lot of people express paralysis in terms of where to start and what’s most important. Guess what: There is no right answer! I don’t have the right “answer” or tell people what they should do. It depends on what you want to do!
So, I don’t start with the numbers: I start more “big picture”:
What would you be doing if money were no object?
What are the daily pleasures you enjoy that make life worth living?
What does money mean to you?
I help clients align their goals and values with their behaviors. After they share their goals, I ask them why they have those goals. For example: Why do they want to pay off credit card debt?
Typical answers for “Why” include planning for a future family, not wanting to be a burden to a partner and/or wanting to be able to do more things together, and living a more flexible lifestyle.
I provide resources to help clients understand the implications for their decisions: I empower them to decide.
WHAT OTHER RESOURCES MIGHT YOU RECOMMEND TO LEARN MORE ABOUT FINANCIAL PLANNING?
I have my unique take on financial planning, so it’s difficult to name specific books or resources. I recommend, for the sake of clarity, that you look at things that you have been avoiding. The first step is getting clear: Look at your bank account! Look at your 401(k)!
Finance is male-dominated, so much of it is written from a technical perspective. Women often need a different, more holistic approach, versus just looking at the numbers. Ellevest is an interesting website that helps women learn more about investing.
HOW DOES FINANCIAL PLANNING IMPROVE OTHER AREAS OF LIFE, PARTICULARLY HEALTH?
I love that question! First of all, financial planning is an area that people avoid. I think that it creates a subconscious, and sometimes conscious, source of stress, because they don’t face it. Even if they have nothing to worry about, they might fear owing money somewhere down the line. There’s this disconnect and fear of looking at personal finances, which ultimately causes more stress and anxiety than actually looking at them!
When you have a plan, you know whether or not you can afford something and simply enjoy it, versus wondering if you can afford it, buying it anyway, and then feeling guilty.
Beyond mental health, I have seen so many other areas of life open upwhen people increase clarity and operate in reality. They enter or leave relationships, have kids, move, or leave jobs that don’t provide income for the life they want.
I believe in physical effects, too! I can’t prove it, but I know it must be. I have had clients that look like they carry the weight of the world on their shoulders--and their posture noticeably improves as a result of the lifting that "weight".
HOW DO YOU SUGGEST FACTORING FINANCIAL PLANNING INTO A WEEKLY POWER HOUR?
- Spend time on your life vision and what’s not working, versus focusing on the numbers.
- Check your account balances and pay bills that are due. I’m still surprised by the number of people who don’t pay bills on time--even if they have the money to do so!
- Ground and center.
WHAT ARE 3 WAYS YOU HELP MAKE YOUR PERSONAL FINANCES MORE "SUSTAINABLE"?
- I don’t look at personal finances or make changes frequently. Rather than have multiple, time-consuming systems, I have automated systems, so that I’m not constantly thinking about it. The 401(k) is usually much more effective than other ways of saving--because it’s automated.
- I automate a weekly allowance--my spending money for the week--in a separate checking account, so that I don’t overspend.
- In finance, as with health and habit changes, the tortoise wins the race: If you make small changes, attached to your lifestyle, then it works. I opt for this approach over intense, short-term focus.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 FINANCIAL PLANNING TIPS FOR WOMEN?
- Get clear. Focus on knowing the details and not being afraid to inform yourself. This will not only empower you, it will also make you less overwhelmed! You can start by taking the Financial Control Quiz on the Brooklyn Plans website.
- Get help. Google questions, research, and talk to people who know more about financial planning.
- Take the action. Move beyond “analysis paralysis”, and do something! It’s better to get started now: You can always change course later.
Finance is really about your life vision, so connecting to that will help you make more intuitive decisions about your finances. However, putting systems in place helps it work long-term!
Brooklyn Plans helps young professionals take control of their finances through individual financial plans & workshops. Just imagine what the world would be like if women weren’t afraid of their finances anymore and instead were equipped with the tools and support they needed to achieve their goals and live their dreams.
This month kicks off our monthly Walnut Weekly Write-In! What would YOU like to learn more about? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions, and we might dedicate a Walnut Weekly to you!
And stay tuned this month for simple step-by-steps on how to start Power Houring your way to sustainable nutrition and fitness!
Our 6-week online course is all about helping you identify the root causes of your feelings and learn healthy coping strategies. It offers tools for increasing conscious awareness of the ways in which you seek pleasure, increasing connection to your body and needs, and developing a new relationship with your body–one that preserves pleasure while building a sustainable approach to eating, exercising, and even intimate relationships.
HEALTHY HABITS THAT ACTUALLY FEEL GOOD
To preview our 6-week online course, take this Course Tour.