Designing Your Money Map with Nora Yousif

Nora Yousif

This past week we had Nora Yousif join us for our first-ever Women Who Empower Breaking Barriers event to talk about designing your money map. Nora is a 3rd generation financial advisor at Empow(Her) Wealth Group at RBC Wealth Management as well as a top “40 Under 40 Professional” by Boston Business Journal. Her parents are immigrants from Lebanon, and they first came to the US with the clothes on their back and a little bit of money in the hopes of having the American dream. Nora was able to get a front-row seat at what grit could do and saw how no matter what was going on her parents always saved some of their income.

“We need to be independent as women with our finances”

While many consider it uncomfortable, it’s crucial to talk about money. Any person of color could tell you how there’s an extra fire under us pushing us to do better and to ensure that the sacrifices our parents made were not in vain. As women, there’s an added push. Money management is such a fundamental skill; however, we’re never taught about it in class, rather we’re left to learn ourselves, often through trial and error.

We all think becoming a millionaire is a far-off goal, but Nora broke it down for us and showed us how most millionairesses have an annual income between $100,000 and $200,000. And unlike Kylie Jenner, the majority of them are not trust fund babies- ie. they are 100% self-made.

Nora talks about the key to money management and how it’s all about playing defense vs offense. In other words, it’s how much you’re saving vs how much you’re investing. It’s crucial to prioritize intangible assets, you don’t need a designer bag to know you did well. It’s all about a can-do mindset and living below your means.

Everyone knows how important money management is, but even more so we’re all aware of how difficult it is to manage your assets. Here are a few tips and tricks everyone can use to get on the right track.

  1. Create an emergency fund.

Start putting money away into a savings account or 401k and aim for $10k per person depending on your income. This way, when you need, you can borrow from yourself and avoid having to pay interest to others. On top of an emergency fund, it’s imperative you try and save 20% of your income for short-term and long-term goals. Age is your most important asset: the sooner you save, the more benefits you could reap later in life.

2. Pay off debt fast

Everyone goes through stages where they have to incur some debt, student loans, a home mortgage, or otherwise. When you do have debt, it’s important to be lean and have a plan to play off the debt with the highest interest rate first and then work your way down. You can consolidate your debt but Nora reminds us to be careful not to loop in all our federal debt yet since there may be some forgiveness programs in the works.

3. Getting more in your paycheck

It’s a difficult conversation to have, but it’s important to talk about your pay, especially knowing how wide the gender pay gap is. Many of us feel the pressure to avoid saying we’re motivated by money and that we’re simply passionate about what we do. But in reality, it’s okay to say you work to make money. Money gives you options that you can use to chase opportunities.

Not only is this conversation difficult to have, but it’s hard to figure out when to have it. Nora reminds us that the best time to negotiate your salary is when you’re initially joining a company. 95% of recruiters are willing to negotiate so it’s crucial you never accept your first offer. The ball is in your court and it’s time to demand more! Know the industry standard for your position and inflate that value by 1.2 to account for the pay gap we get as women.

Even more difficult is when you’re already working at a company and are in a job creep (where you started out doing ABC but soon you’re expected to do A-Z). You need and deserve compensation for the extra tasks on your plate. In those situations, it’s important to consider the language you use. A raise insinuates a 1–2% increase whereas a salary adjustment may be a 10% increase. All in all, remember it’s collaborative, not combative. Keep your eyes on the bottom line, don’t get emotional, and it’s open roads ahead.

“Focus on what you can control”

Above, Nora went into detail all the things you can consider when managing your money, but she left us with this: If you’ve decided you want to be a millionairess then it’s up to you to get there.

Researching and reading this is an excellent first step, but in the end, you have to stick to your money map. Keep it real with your budget, if you enjoy a Starbucks coffee every now and again then remember to incorporate it into your budget! Remember to check your social calendar and talk to your friends, meeting up doesn’t have to mean spending $6 on a latte.

Don’t worry, you got this!

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Breaking Barriers is a program focused in highlighting women from Latinx, Black, Middle Eastern, Asian, and LGBTQ+ backgrounds to promote their expertise in one field and open up about their personal challenges breaking into an industry.

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Elina Agrawal

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