What happens when you put 350 women and 17 financial experts in a room for a day to share stories of courage, wisdom and discovery?
I recently had the opportunity to find out when I attended the Sophia Wealth Academy, a one-day conference focused on helping women take their financial empowerment to the next level.
And you know what happened? A whole lot of awesome.
I went in expecting to just learn about money and finance, but it was so much more than that. We covered a wide range of topics, including finance, psychology, communication and leadership, plus there was a big focus on community and empowerment.
Overall the vibe was very inspirational – it got me feeling powerful.
One of my favourite sessions of the day was called #FINANCIALHACKS – it featured a panel of super smart women from different fields sharing their top tips and insights in a bite-sized, fast-paced format.
Here are eight of my favourite hacks from the session.
1. You don’t have to be good with math to be good with money.
Karin Mizgala, Financial Planner, Money Coaches Canada
Being good with money is more about being organized and having a plan, not about being good a math. What many of us lack when it comes to money isn’t ability, it’s confidence.
Don’t let the belief that you have to be good with numbers hold you back from engaging with your money and owning your financial power.
2. Learn the language of asking for what you want. It’ll pay off.
Marlene Delanghe, Career Advisor
There is a lot of data that shows women don’t negotiate for themselves. Negotiating takes courage and action (which may be driven by a dash of anger!), and it’s something that you can learn. Some quick tips for negotiating:
- Bring data that shows your value, your accomplishments and what you’ve brought to the organization in past roles.
- Practice some sample sentences because getting the language from your head to your mouth is critical.
- Learn how to go back and forth and stay in the heat of discomfort, even when you want to shut down.
- Manage your emotions and stay calm.
- Use words like “we” and “us.”
3. Time is money. Know your worth and how to charge for it.
Pamela Clarke, Wealth Advisor, Vancity
Coming up with an hourly rate as an independent worker isn’t as simple as it seems. There’s much more to it than deciding how much your services are worth. You need a rate that attracts customers and earns you a livable salary, a rate that’s both competitive and fair.
Independent workers often don’t take into account expenses such as health benefits, life insurance, CPP (Canada Pension Plan), or vacation and sick days. There are free tools available to help, like the Urban Worker Project salary to hourly rate calculator.
4. An inspiring goal will help you stay focused and on track with your money.
Sheila Walkington, Financial Planner, Money Coaches Canada
We don’t always think about our goals in financial terms. Your goal might be to start a family, buy a house, launch a business or travel around the world. Look at what you want and then translate it into financial terms.
The more inspiring the goal, the easier it will be to do what it takes – to be more careful with your money, to make difficult choices and to save for the things that you really want.
One example of an inspiring goal is a “debt-free date” – setting a date for when you want to be free of debt can motivate you to take action.
5. TFSAs and RRSPs are not investments and they are not created equal.
Kamal Basra, Financial Advisor
TFSAs (Tax-Free Savings Accounts) and RRSPs (Registered Retirement Savings Plans) are types of accounts – they are not investments. You have to open an account and then decide what type of investments to put inside of it.
TFSAs and RRSPs are both registered accounts, which means the Canada Revenue Agency tracks how much you deposit and withdraw (because there are contribution limits and tax implications).
The RRSP has been around for decades – it is generally used for retirement and allows you to defer taxes. The TFSA, introduced in 2009, is much newer and allows you grow your money tax-free. Talk to your financial advisor about which type of account makes the most sense for you.
6. Saving for a child’s education? Say YES to an RESP and say YES to free money!
Tina Cheung, Wealth Advisor, Vancity
Did you know that British Columbia families could miss out on close to $5 billion in RESP (Registered Education Savings Plan) grants in their children’s lifetime, if current participation and contribution rates continue? That’s an average of $5,884 missed per eligible child.
Some of the grants don’t even require any contribution to claim them – it’s free money for your kids. The only catch is that you must open an RESP.
7. The Family Law Act doesn’t care if you are married or common law.
Lisa Alexander, Family Lawyer, Mediator
Just because you chose not to get married, that doesn’t mean you opted out of the law. Common-law couples that have lived together for two years (or have a child together) have the same rights and responsibilities as married couples. In the event of separation, your assets will be divided from the time you got together.
Make sure you know what’s at stake legally before you move in together. Consider setting up a co-habitation agreement and, at the bare minimum, print out statements for any assets you own the day you move in together and keep them somewhere safe.
8. Every Canadian needs a relationship with a financial institution. Choose well.
Pamela Clarke, Wealth Advisor, Vancity
Choosing where to bank is a personal decision that has a big influence on how you manage your money and time. Your main choice is between a bank and a credit union. Banks and credit unions offer essentially the same products and services, but there are huge differences in the way they operate.
One of the key differences is ownership: a credit union is owned by its members and run by a local board of directors elected by fellow credit union members, while a bank is owned by shareholders and run by a board of directors who aren’t necessarily bank customers.