finance tips

Priya Malani Offers Financial Advice All Millennials Need to Hear

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Priya Malani, founding partner of Stash Wealth, a financial planning team that helps young professionals get smart with all things money, started her finance career at Merrill Lynch, where she had the inspiration to create a better, faster, and cooler way to manage money for twenty & thirty-something’s who need help navigating their finances.

She’s been featured in articles from publications like Bustle and Wealth Management, where she is admired for addressing her clients as H.E.N.R.Y’s (High Earners, Not Rich Yet), and helps them save for the future.

Priya offers us some fun, yet essential advice on financial planning as a young professional.

How did you get started in your career at Stash Wealth?

I started working in finance in 2003 at Merrill Lynch. I was immediately hooked as I loved the idea of creating wealth and providing freedom of choice through a solid financial foundation. Not long after I joined Merrill, it struck me as odd that the Financial Services Industry was basically ignoring my entire generation. Many of the practices were very old school so even if the big banks wanted to work with millennials, I knew the concepts wouldn't resonate.

What are the common negative money habits some of us have, and how can we fix them?

>>We spend money we don’t have (a.k.a. get into credit card debt) That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use a credit card. In fact we encourage credit cards at Stash. Just make sure you can pay off your bill in full at the end of the month. If you don’t trust yourself not to overspend, consider a free site like Debitize which does the hard work for you.

>>Living a lifestyle you can’t afford (goes hand in hand with the previous one). More here. Instagram makes it very tempting to try to keep up with your friends but just a friendly PSA from Stash: Your friends appear a lot richer on social media than they actually are!!

>>Saving for the sake of saving. When you’re putting money into a general savings account, it’s very easy to move it right back to your checking account when “Whoops! The credit card bill was a little high this month”

>>Confusing investing with gambling. Just because you’re buying Bitcoin or Amazon stock, doesn’t mean you’re investing - that’s gambling - don’t confuse the two.

What are some of the best ways to save effectively?

1 - Out of sight, out of mind. Keep your savings at a different bank than where you keep your checking account. You won’t have immediate access to it if you want to make an impulse purchase - that’s the point.

2 - Nickname your savings accounts. Stop saving for the sake of saving. Save with purpose so you’re less tempted to touch that money. Keep a separate account for each goal. Sounds tedious, but you’ll actually stick to your savings plan this way. Two common accounts we set up for our clients are: Travel and Holiday Gifts.

3 - Automate your savings. Technology is your best friend. Set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to each savings account the day after payday. Then watch your savings grow without lifting a finger.

How can millennials can save without feeling restricted?

At Stash, we hate budgeting. Instead, we do something with our clients called Reverse Budgeting™. The concept is to save first, and then blow the rest. With your savings out of the way (and out of sight/mind at an online bank) you can blow whatever’s left in your checking account, guilt-free.

“No one wants to feel like they have to watch every dollar they spend with the hopes that there’s something left over”

How can recent college graduates/millennials feel secure taking on a business venture while paying back student loans?

While this works out in rare cases, taking a step into the very risky world of entrepreneurship is never a sure bet. We advocate that our clients keep a steady job while building up their side venture (hustle) simultaneously. Once you’re feeling solid about the revenue you’re able to bring in (which could take 1-5 years or more), then take the leap - especially if you’re still paying down student loans!

Do you think that having a financial plan is a form of financial wellness? How can having a financial plan better our lives?

I’m sure I’m biased, but absolutely. Financial planning eliminates the need to keep your fingers crossed - which decreases stress and uncertainty. Having a game plan is appropriate for many aspects of life. When you get in a car, what’s the first thing you do? You enter your destination into Google Maps or Waze and it tells you how to get from one place to another in the most efficient way. Same goes for having a financial game plan.

Do you have words of wisdom for anyone who thinks they’re bad with money?

Being bad with money isn’t a thing - so get that idea out of your head. If you think you’re “bad with money” it’s likely you just haven’t started thinking about what you want yet. Setting small and large financial goals is the first step toward being better with money.

What are some things we don’t need to spend a lot of money on?

At Stash, we are a #judgementfreezone. It’s your money, you work hard for it! Spend it on whatever you want as long as you have your financial sh*t together. That means, you are living a lifestyle you can afford (no credit card debt) and aren’t ignoring priorities like paying rent, paying down student loans, etc. If there’s money left over, blow it! An expensive bottle of wine, a weekly mani/pedi, SoulCycle/Equinox, Ubers, first class plane tickets, whatever!

How do you stay #savvy in your everyday life?

As an entrepreneur, it’s very easy to lose yourself in your work so I try to find balance. I read a lot (fiction and non-fiction). I workout a few times a week. I spend time outdoors. I am always “pruning” various aspects of my life, from my closet to Chrome bookmarks! When it comes to my money, I stay #savvy by spending my money on things and experiences that I value. Before buying anything, I ask myself “what is this thing or experience worth to me?”

“Remember, it’s your life, if you don’t plan for it, who will?”
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Need Tips For Getting Started in Business? Ask Sarah Kunst.

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Sarah Kunst, creator of the app Proday, which provides workout routines from fitness celebrities and world-renowned athletes, has been making it big in business. Her app has been funded by the L.A. Dodgers, Arielle Zukerberg, and features routines from athletes such as Delanie Walker from the Tennessee Titans. She is on the board for Venture for America, a venture capitalist herself, and a successful entrepreneur.

Sarah offers us some helpful tips for those trying to navigate the business world and create a successful startup.

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How did you get started in your career? What were the pivotal moments that helped you realize that you were on the right path?

I got started in college working for Apple in a marketing role and found a passion for tech and strong brands, which took me to Chanel out of college. Then I got into the Startup world. There was never a clear path, but I always worked hard, read about industries I was interested in, and helped people.

“If you’re smart, hard working, well read, and helpful, being successful becomes much easier because people like you, need you, and want to help you in return.”

What are ways to stand out when raising money for your startup business?

Be prepared. Read books on how to raise venture capital money. Listen to podcasts and read articles. Find old pitch decks from other startups. Comb the websites of VC funds who offer advice on how to pitch them.

Once you have an idea, digital presence, and proof that it works, you can try raising money from friends, family, or accelerators. No one is too far along for an accelerator. It’s often the easiest $100K you’ll get in your life.

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How do you overcome the continuous challenges in your career while staying passionate about your app, Proday?

Life is a challenge. Being a black woman might mean more or different challenges, but everyone has internal and external roadblocks to overcome. Controlling your mind and body helps a lot.

Meditate, workout - even just getting your 10k steps in everyday - drink lots of water, sleep a lot, give hugs to your people, dance to happy music, and eat healthy. Those things can’t be overlooked. You have tons of time each day to struggle with your business and other problems, so make sure you spend a few minutes chasing joy too.

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How do we encourage speaking out about issues of discrimination and harassment?

As the late, great Whitney Houston would advise, keep impeccable receipts. You will be discriminated against or harassed - we have research that shows it’s a virtual inevitability for women and people of color in the workplace. So keep a record when it happens. Take detailed notes, screenshots, or confirm it in writing. Read up on EEOC laws. This stuff is wrong, often illegal, and women need to hear that they are allowed to report these people.

I’ve been overwhelmed by support from men and women since I spoke up in a New York Times article about being sexually harassed. Often men don’t hear about sexual harassment so they don’t know how common it is. When you tell them, they will listen and be better allies.

What advice do you have for women that have no prior knowledge about managing money to take charge of their finances?

Sign up for mint.com to get your credit score. See what you’re spending on monthly and decide to save a little. Set up a 401k or IRA and contribute just $20 from each paycheck to it.

If $20 sounds like a lot, try just $5 a week. Tally up what you spend money on that isn’t rent, bills, or transportation and see what you’re spending on that you’re not really enjoying.

I’m a big at home coffee person. I know I can’t fund my retirement on the $5 a day I save, but it covers gas money and my phone bill and that’s not trivial.

The most important first step is understanding what you make, owe, and spend, then trying to save or pay down debt a little more.

Investing is easy and apps like Acorns and Robinhood are simple to use. Download the Yahoo! Stocks app and start following stocks that you like and understand - Apple, Amazon, Stitchfix etc. If you can afford it, put some money into buying those stocks once you feel you can explain to a friend why they’re good buys that you’ll want to hold for a while.

Women make great investors, the data proves this. We just need more of us to invest!

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Follow Sarah at @sarahkunst