Our rights as women have come a long way since we earned the power to vote on August 26, 1920.
But the financial playing field between men and women still isn’t level. Not even close.
To help you make waves in your own financial life, I interviewed several Millennial and Gen Z women to find out what financial advice they’d give to other women today
Here’s what they had to say.
1. “Don’t be afraid to negotiate your salary.”
Anna Barker, Founder of LogicalDollar, offered me this advice.
There’s no question that it can be scary to ask for more money. Especially as women, we often internalize the feeling that we’re going to be seen as pushy or demanding if we ask for a raise.
However, various studies show this is actually one of the reasons women end up earning less over their lifetimes than men, who tend to be more likely to ask for more money.
2. “Take advantage of any employer match ASAP.”
Barker also talked with me about retirement. One of the best things that you can do for your future financial security is to start investing as early as possible.
If your employer offers any matching of your 401(k) contributions, this is basically free money and you should do everything you can to invest up to the limit of the match.
3. “Avoid high-interest debt.”
According to Barker, a big money mistake that a lot of women in their 20s and 30s make is signing up for high-interest credit cards. To be clear, credit cards can actually be a great tool if used correctly — which primarily involves paying the balance off in full by the end of each billing cycle.
The problems start to arise once those interest-free periods run out and you realize you’re not able to immediately pay off the debt you’ve accrued.
4. “It is SO cliché, so hear me out… please start saving early for retirement!”
Heather Albrecht, Financial Coach and Founder of Balance Financial Coaching, discussed this with me.
It’s hard because when you’re young, you seem to have SUCH a long time until that money is needed. But the math doesn’t lie.
Starting young makes it easier because you can save less. Gosh, I wish I had made the space in our spending plan to save earlier even though it seemed impossible. The $25 here or there would have been huge by now.
5. “Start using a spending plan or budget. Zero it out each month, and save the rest.”
Albrecht also spoke with me here. And I have to say if I had been able to get myself into the mindset of “saving money is spending money on my future freedom” at a younger age, there would have been a lot less stress at times.
Budgeting doesn’t have to be difficult, either. Just pick the right method and it’ll become just another habit.
6. “As a Millennial myself, the best money advice I would give women in their 20s and 30s is to diversify how you save and spend money.”
Siobhan Alvarez, Founder of Budget Baby Budget, shared this wisdom with me.
I am a big believer in not being dependent on one checking and savings account! I have a long-term high-yield savings account for an emergency fund, a savings account at my local bank for big purchases, a checking account for everyday expenses; and a checking account for fun purchases throughout the month.
This has helped me not only pay off a huge amount of debt over the past few years but do it in a way so I didn’t feel like I was missing out on life and fun!
7. “Protect yourself and your people financially.”
Brittney Burgett, Head of Communications at Bestow, gave this little nugget of advice. Emergency savings, disability insurance, and life insurance matter, especially if you have financial dependents.
Insurance, in particular, is more affordable to buy the younger and healthier you are. I, for example, have life insurance because I own a home.
My mom is my beneficiary, so if anything were to happen to me, the payout from a policy would enable her to continue the mortgage payments and decide later on what to do with my house — keep it, rent it or sell it. Life insurance would give her flexibility when it’s needed most.
8. “Educate yourself so you understand how money, interest, and debt works.”
Lindsay Feldman, Publicist and Founder of BrandBomb Marketing, broke down this for me.
It wasn’t until I really started reading financial books and listening to podcasts that I really began to take control over my financial situation. Understanding how money, interest, and debt works are key to being able to make your money work for you. I look at everything differently now which has empowered me to make smarter decisions.
9. “Sign up for Experian Boost. It’s free and will report monthly bills that generally don’t boost your credit like a phone bill, gas, and power!”
Feldman offered up a way for folks to finally help their credit the easy way. Experian Boost™ is free and it takes just a few minutes to sign-up.
Always be on the lookout for ways to improve your credit – it’ll only help you in the long run.
10. “When you buy your first home, pay biweekly (most working people get paid on these terms anyway). You’ll make one extra payment a year, shaving off seven years of your loan life on a 30-year mortgage!”
Feldman shares a great tip that can help homeowners own their home sooner (and pay wayyy less in interest). If it’s possible, work those extra payments into your budget.
11. “When it comes to money, you can have your cake and eat it too.”
Youmna Rab, Founder of Brilliantly Budgeting offered me this quote.
You don’t need to save every penny you earn and give up your favorite indulgences like spa days or dinners out.
If you make a plan for your money, you can enjoy what you like while also saving money for the future.
Shannon Vissers, the Financial and Retail Analyst of Merchant Maverick, shared some tough love here.
If you break up or your partner spends on things you don’t agree with, you’ll have no legal recourse to get your money back apart from suing them in small claims or court (which is expensive and stressful and may not go in your favor).
13. “Do not lease your car. Take out a loan instead.”
Vissers makes a good point here as well. A lease is essentially a very expensive car rental, and it’s a bad choice unless you’re wealthy enough to comfortably afford this luxury.
This doesn’t mean you can’t get a new car when you’re young. Rather than leasing a car out of your price range, opt to finance a cute, reliable car that you’ll own in three or five years (ideally three). You’ll build credit history this way and, in a few years, you won’t even have a monthly car payment.
14. “Be a minimalist, especially if you rent.”
While this tip may not be for everyone, there’s a good reason Visser’s offers this pearl of wisdom as well.
A good case can be made for spending on experiences when you’re young – trips, concerts, etc. — but overspending on retail goods is another story. Ever heard of the saying, what you own, owns you?
Remember, you’ll have to deal with all your clothes, shoes, furniture, kitchen items, knick-knacks, etc. the next time you move — and your headaches will be compounded if you have to move to a smaller place.
15. “The greatest gift you can give yourself is to save and invest early.”
Sarah Jane Paulson, CFP® at Valkyrie Financial, gave me this bit of guidance.
The classic pay yourself first mentality is the easiest way to a financially strong future. Build that emergency fund (or F*** You fund, if you prefer) of three to six months worth of expenses in a separate account other than your everyday checking.
Then go out and open an IRA or Roth for yourself. Put your money into cheap, diverse index funds and keep adding to it. The greatest money strength you have on your side is that you have years for the market to create an avalanche out of the first few snowflakes of money you invest.
16. “Becoming a financially grown-up woman means unlearning a lot of money lessons society taught us as girls: that men are better at money and math (they’re not), that investing is scary (it’s not), and that the best route to financial stability is to marry a high earner (absolutely not!).”
Sara Rathner, credit cards expert at NerdWallet, wanted to share this with other women.
So throw all those old lessons in the garbage, because that’s where it belongs. Now, today, learn everything you can about managing your finances on your own.
There is nothing more empowering than being the boss of your own life, and of being an equal partner in your relationships. No one will ever care as much about your money as you will.
17. “Surround yourself with people with similar money values.”
Sue Hirst, Co-Founder and CFO of CFO On-Call shared her experience when we talked.
When I was in my 20s, I used to hang out with many people who didn’t share my money values. As a result, almost every time I went out with my friends, I splurged money recklessly due to peer pressure.
This was one of the top reasons I was unable to save as much money as I would have liked each month. Looking back, I wish I had either told my friends directly that I wasn’t comfortable spending huge amounts of money routinely, or made new friends whose financial values aligned with my own.
18. “Make saving a habit as soon as you start making income.”
Imani Francies, Finance Expert at US Insurance Agents, shared this little mind shift.
Saving becomes easier when you look at yourself with the same significance that you look at your power bill or any other bill. No matter what, you are going to do your best to pay your power bill. You should feel the same way about putting money into your savings.
Paying yourself first every month is investing in your future. Even if you can only put $5 into a savings account once a month, start early.
19. “Budget, but give yourself room to indulge.”
Lisa Thompson, Savings Expert at Coupons.com, offered up ALLLL the good tips when I spoke with her.
What’s your weakness: designer handbags, weekend getaways, fine dining with a great bottle of champagne? Make room for things you love by controlling what you spend in other areas.
20. “Cash back offers are everywhere, from brands like Rakuten, to credit card perks, to apps like Coupons.com. Use them!”
Thompson also offers this bit of advice. Refuse to pay full price for anything until you’ve looked for an offer. If you can pair a coupon or cash back offer with a store discount or sale, bam! That’s a savvy way to shop.
21. “Learn to use credit cards wisely.”
To tack on, Thompson also had this to say.
She makes a good point, too. Today, there are so many options for credit cards that offer perks from cash back to miles to points, as well as incentives, like a free Dash Pass for DoorDash or money toward a Peloton membership. The key, of course, is to not carry a balance and pay so much interest that it cancels out the perks. But if you can learn to use credit cards wisely by paying them off each month, the perks and incentives can help make everything from dining out to travel more affordable.
22. “Get a side gig by turning a passion into a money-making opportunity.”
Finally, Thompson ended our conversation with the quote above.
Do you love essential oils? Make balms, rollerballs, and pillow sprays, and sell them on Etsy or at pop-up shops.
Do you love thrifting, going to estate sales, and visiting antique shops? Find items worth more than what you’re paying and resell them! Facebook Marketplace is the perfect spot for that, and it’s free.
If you can turn a hobby into a source of income, that’s extra money for you to invest, save, or use as your slush/entertainment fund.
23. “Know your worth and advocate for yourself when negotiating.”
Amy Maliga, Personal Finance Consultant at Take Charge America, tells it like it is with her wise advice above.
Since the gender pay gap is still a real thing (ugh), it’s important to do your research on salaries for your position and advocate for yourself when negotiating a new job or discussing your annual performance review.
24. “Set goals and actively work toward them.”
Maliga offered me a simple but strong piece of advice above.
Whether it’s buying a home, starting a business, or embarking on world travel, setting financial goals gives a structure and framework to how you plan your finances.
25. “Forget FOMO. Don’t be afraid to say no.”
Maliga also makes a good point here.
TikTok made me buy it – or did it?
It’s way too easy to shop these days, and social media knows exactly what it takes to get you to press “add to cart.” When you’re tempted to buy something you hadn’t planned on, or friends are trying to talk you into activities you can’t afford, keep those long-term financial goals in mind, and don’t be afraid to say no.
We celebrate Women’s Equality Day every August 26th to commemorate the day the 19th Amendment finally recognized that women have the right to vote. But that same equality hasn’t trickled to the financial space yet, where the gender pay gap, wealth gap, and investing gap still exist today.
We’ve made a lot of progress over the decades, but a lot still needs to happen at the company, state, and national levels to achieve equal pay and equal opportunities for equal work. Until then, I hope these financial tips from awesome Millennial and Gen Z women serve as inspiration for how you can up the ante in your own financial life.
Are there any tips you’d add to the list? Let me know in the comments below!