When I was 18 years old, my dad told me that I needed to should start my retirement fund and that it might be wise to begin building an investment portfolio. Also, renting an apartment was a waste of money, he told me—it is far wiser to invest in some property. I laughed. “Sure dad, I’ll just go ahead put my measly earnings into some over-my-head investments. Besides I’m a Liberal Arts student—money obviously means nothing to me!”
Well, I'm not laughing now.
This nonchalant attitude towards financial security is not limited to uniformed teens. It is pervasive amongst the uniformed in all age groups. Investing might seem like an activity reserved for clever folks in the finance industry. However, as LearnVest founder Alexa Von Tobel points out,
Money is something that everyone in America has to deal with...Financial planning should not be a luxury...Arguably the less money you have, the more you need advice.
Learnvest: A financial first aid kit on the web
LearnVest is a unique website dedicated to helping women educate themselves and implement responsible financial practices. Mashable reports that the site has just added a team of real-life financial advisors, along with a new “suite of tools,” to its trove of financial resources. LearnVest features include:
My Money Center (beta) - members can link all of their accounts to a Financial Inbox, which tracks all spending in one location. The Financial Inbox employs a folder system that allows users to personalize budget items.
Bootcamps - The LearnVest Bootcamps are educational programs that arrive by email daily throughout the length of the program. The Bootcamps not only provide topical information but give short tasks for members to complete on a daily basis. Bootcamp programs include:
- Take Control Bootcamp (new)
- Cut Your Costs
- Personal Finance Basics
- Get out of Debt
Courses - interactive lessons written by in-house Certified Financial Experts on everything from first-time investing to financial decision making for couples.
Premium members can now solicit advice from real financial advisors. Premium membership fees range from 1 day ($4.99), 3 months ($39.99), or 1 year ($129.99)—a pretty sweet deal compared to the costs of hiring an offline advisor. LearnVest also provides a ton of free advice on frugal living, and not just in an across the board “tightening of the belt” sense. LearnVest will show you how to keep everything from fashion, beauty, home decor, restaurants, entertainment, and travel in your life without entering the financial red zone.
Why all women need to be finance-savvy
Though women certainly aren’t the only ones who could stand to be financially informed (I know lots of men who could use a good bootcamp), we do face different financial pressures than our male counterparts. Consumer culture preys predominantly upon women, who account for 85% of all brand purchases according to She-conomy. These aren’t just “girly” buys either. Apparently, women purchase more homes, vacations, health care, cars, food, and pharmeceuticals than men. For women today, financial independence is more important than ever and if we continue to be the primary buyers, then we need to make sure we’re spending and saving smartly. Intelligent money management might mean investing--a term that intimidates some of us. However, if you thought sticking your money under your mattress was smart, think again. You have to play the game to win, as they say, and making the most of your money might mean sending it out into the investment sphere.
“There are hundreds of programs and tools designed to help women study for exams, lose weight, and find love,” says von Tobel. “Surprisingly, there isn’t a single program that applies a similar method to help women get organized and in control of their finances.” LearnVest is filling this void, offering organizational tools that allow you to put all your finances on the table and take a good, hard look, something we’re not often inclined to do unless forced. This site is an invaluable—I would venture to say essential—online tool for women to learn how to make the most of their cash.