I have a not-so-secret interest in personal finance…and I am so excited to have connected with fellow Wing member Liz Bybordi, founder of She’s Good with Money. Financial wellness is no joke; and though easy to avoid, hard to wrap your head around, and sometimes just not something we want to think about at all, being proactive in this area of our lives is crucial. Her interview, below, is a must-read!!!
Name: Liz Bybordi
Education: B.S. Hospitality & Event Management from UCF
How did you determine what you wanted to study in college?
I knew I wanted to go to UCF and their Rosen College of Hospitality Management, which is well respected. I thought I wanted to work in that industry because I am obsessively organized and love planning and logistics. It seemed like a perfect fit. However, after a couple of internships, I realized that I did not want to work nights and weekends, which is what that industry demands. I also just had a change of heart, which I think should be expected between the ages of 18 and 22!
Walk us through your initial job search strategy and how you landed your first full-time role.
This was back at the end of 2011 and early 2012, so I don’t think I even had LinkedIn then! I applied randomly online to a ton of jobs. I interviewed at some big hotels in Florida, but then randomly had an offer through a family friend to interview at a financial firm in NYC. I didn’t care what the job was; I was ready to go. So I flew up to interview and ended up getting the job. This first position allowed me to learn, grow, and get a solid resume started. Fun fact: I also met my now husband there! This company paid for me to get my Series 7 and 66 licenses (which are a must in the finance world) and having those two credentials on my resume allowed me to land better and better roles.
When did you realize that you were “good with money,” and how did that translate into founding She’s Good With Money?
My parents opened a checking account with a debit card for me at 13 years old. I decorated a shoe box and stored my checkbook, deposit slips, and documents in there. I was always very responsible and independent (oldest child thing?) so I did not take this responsibility lightly. Of course, at 13, the money was not really mine, but my parents taught me great lessons with this. For example, anytime money was due for an event at school or to buy a book, my parents would transfer the money to my account, and I would then write a check out to the school. It allowed me to see the flow of money and get comfortable with it. When I think about it now, I believe it also gave me confidence because my parents were trusting me with this adult responsibility. Today I still hear parents talk about their adult children as if they are five years old and can’t handle responsibility. It’s ridiculous. Please, talk to your kids about money, life, news, politics, and everything in between!
I realized I was pretty “good with money” when I finally got my first job out of college and was saving, investing, and living in Manhattan at 22 years old while accruing zero debt. In 2012, my starting salary was $40,000, which increased to $45,000 after I passed my Series 7 test about 4 months into the job. I’ve loved reading and learning about money and economics since I was a teen, but now getting to finally build my own wealth was really exciting! I’ve now worked in finance for my whole career and love teaching friends and family (and anyone who will listen) about personal finance!
I think it’s important to remember that we don’t all start on the same level. Some people have more steps to climb than others. When I was starting out in NYC, parental assistance came in the form of covering my cell phone bill at the time and health insurance until I turned 26 (thanks to the ACA). Other than that, nada. Also, UCF is a state school, and I got a 75% scholarship. I worked a little bit in college, but my parents covered basically all expenses. I am extremely thankful that I never had to take out student loans, and I know how fortunate my situation was.
What was the hardest part of getting SGWM up and running? Any failures or doubts along the way and if so, what did you learn from them?
The hardest part was just doing it. I mean I’m quoting Nike but seriously, just do it. I seem to get most defeated when I overthink my mission. I sincerely and passionately want to educate everyone about money management and investing. When I start to think people don’t really care or won’t make any changes, I feel defeated and think, “Oh forget it, what’s the point?”
I’m still learning, but I’ve learned just to keep going. I have so much to share, and I LOVE talking about money so why should I stop? Even if only one person picks up one piece of advice, that’s worth it.
What advice do you have for young women who want to launch their own venture, big or small?
Keep organized. Keep overhead low, but hire experts that know more than you. Whether that be a web designer or a CPA, if you don’t know what you are doing, you could create a mess. Also, if you happen to be working full-time already or can work at least part-time, suck it up a little longer and save as much as you can.
What is it really like to be a woman in finance?
Well, the ratio of men to women is depressing, but getting better. The advice and assumptions, however, are totally geared towards men, it’s kind of crazy. I think that this will all change with our generation and younger. There are so many great women shaking up the financial world (i.e., Sallie Krawcheck, Farnoosh Torabi, Erin Lowry).
What does financial wellness mean to you, and what tips do you have for young women who want to achieve it?
Financial wellness means being in control. You don’t have to be at zero debt and a massive net-worth. I do think however, we should all try to learn more in order to make smarter decisions. One tip for young women is to ask for raises and talk about finances with other people. Transparency! Some general but majorly important tips are: spend less than you earn, don’t accumulate consumer debt (credit cards), income does not determine your wealth, save for specific goals in separate accounts, invest as much as you can and start today!
Financial planning can be hard, and time-consuming, and confusing…among other things. If there’s only one thing you suggest young women do regarding their finances, what is it, and why?
Care about it and read to learn. You can learn whatever you want! There is so much information out there. However, if you don’t have the time or are completely uninterested, then hire help! Yes, hiring a professional costs money, but I bet you they will end up paying for themselves and then some. If you have no idea what you are doing, you are likely costing yourself what will be thousands over the years!
Do you have a mentor? Who do you look to for inspiration and support?
I’ve met some really wonderful women at The Wing. Including the woman who made my website runs her own design firm (Cody @ Loki Loki). She has been really encouraging and inspiring to me since day one. My cousin Mae is the CEO of her own company too (Obviously), and I can’t even believe how much she has built. Knowing someone genetically related to me has done something so big helps me believe I can do something big, too. My sister-in-law Andrea started her own floral design business (Honeysuckle Way Flowers), and she’s also crushing it!
In general, though, NYC is my inspiration. Living here has opened my mind and life to so much that I can’t even imagine where I would be today if I didn’t move here at 22. Everyone here is a risk taker, curious, creative, etc. I am inspired every day.
Final words of wisdom to all the young women out there who are strategizing to reach their financial goals?
It’s not overly complicated, and you don’t have to be a finance major, a stockbroker, of a genius to be good with money. However, there are many great experts out there, and it’s always smart to reach out for help and guidance. I encourage every young woman to just start now. Do one thing today, for example, go open a high yield savings account! Read about personal finance until you start to understand more. And take ownership and responsibility. My brother always says this and I think it is true: people show what they care about and what their priorities are. If you really want to be good with money and have financial freedom, then do something about it. If you don’t know where to start, ask for help. It’s like working out, it’s painful at first, but seeing the results and the feeling of being financially in shape are so worth it.
Connect with Liz online (http://shesgoodwithmoney.com/) and via Instagram!!!
Thank you, Liz!