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This 24-year-old is on track to save $100,000 by age 25, and she has advice for other women who want to be rich
Tori Dunlap wants to have $100,000 saved before she turns 26, and shes on track to make it happen.
Tori Dunlap made a deal with herself she wants to have $100,000 when shes 25, but she doesnt mind if it doesnt happen until the day before her 26th birthday.
The 24-year-old says shes on track to make that goal a reality, and it comes mostly from having a strong education in finance from an early age. Dunlap, who has a full-time job and a side business, both in finance, was given financial literacy lessons from her parents from a young age. She wants to help women everywhere feel the same sense of empowerment her financial education gives her.
Dunlap has been working since she was 9 years old, and started saving for retirement at 21. She recently rebranded her business and website, now calledHer First $100Kbut previously known as Victori Media, to coach women on their money and careers.
Not all women feel comfortable managing money. Less than a third of women see themselves as investors, according to a recent Fidelity Investmentssurvey, but not planning how to spend, save and invest could lead to distress come retirement. Women 65 and older are also80% more likelyto end up in poverty, compared with their male counterparts, according to nonprofit research firm National Institute on Retirement Security.
See:A dire situation for womens retirement and whats being done about it
Dunlap spoke with MarketWatch about how financial literacy helped her, and why all women need it.
MarketWatch:So what exactly was your financial education like?
Tori Dunlap:I was privileged to have a financial education from my parents, who were frugal and great savers. Im the only child and I grew up very close to them.
I started my first business when I was 9 and opened my first checking and savings accounts at 10. I pitched my business at 9 and 10 years old, guided by my dad, and then later sold that business to a 10-year-old also named Tori. I learned how to pitch myself, how to write a check things most 9- or 10-year-olds dont know.
In addition to business, I saw my dad negotiate everything hed call about the cable bill every month. My parents also taught me you dont spend something on a credit card you cant later pay off. You cant spend what you dont have. I was just so lucky to grow up with that. When I graduated college I knew the business thing wasnt normal but I thought it was common to know you dont overspend on a credit card and you should negotiate paying your bills.
Women receive less financial education than men so were facing obstacles that men arent. I knew I had to fight back. I was the friend all my friends came to for money questions, and I wanted to pass that knowledge on.
MW:Can you tell me a bit more about your business at such a young age?
Dunlap:My first business came spontaneously. My dad was a salesman and always wanted to be an entrepreneur. One day he was visiting one of his customers who had all these vending machines nobody was using. My dad walked through the door I was home from school sitting in the family room and he places the machine in front of me (it was those machines that typically sell gum balls for 25 cents) and he said do you want to start a business? And 9-year-old me who was bossy and super ambitious when it came to school and excited about anything that came my way was like yeah, lets do it! He would go in to the businesses first and then Id walk in and pitch myself.
I had a contract that said in exchange for giving me free space for the machine, I would keep it full of snacks. All proceeds went to my college fund. Eleven years of quarters. Wed go to the machines every month to service them there were 15 machines by the time I graduated high school, and by then I wasnt getting all the machines on loan from my dad. Wed come home every month and roll the quarters together.
It was an incredible gift my dad gave me. There were times as a teenager I didnt want to do it but Im thankful he pushed me along and made sure I saw it through. It was an incredible way to teach me about money, how to be persistent, how to know how to pitch myself, and understand rejection.
5 simple steps to reach $1 million So you want to be a millionaire… We cant get you a winning lottery ticket but these five steps will help you get there before you retire.
MW:Why is your side hustle about women and financial literacy?
Dunlap:I wake up with a fire in my belly to fight financial inequality for women who are not getting paid fairly compared with what their male co-worker gets paid, or who have a higher title than they do. I take everything I learned and I have a site with a ton of free resources and community connections for women. I coach women all over the world, with one-on-one coaching. These are people who say theyre in debt, or they dont know where theyre going with their money. I can help them come up with strategies. I also write about and speak about money at different womens empowerment retreats and money retreats. It wakes me up like nothing else does.
Women are at a severe disadvantage. Not only do we have the pay gap, but we invest not at all or later than men. So were expected to live on less money our entire lives. We can work with women to give them resources and be excited about money rather than terrified.
Dont miss:Why are women retiring with up to $1 million less than men?
MW:From your experience, what do you find to be most common problem when it comes to women and financial literacy? What can be done about it?
Dunlap:I think the most common thing when it comes to women and financial literacy is theres a lot of inaction around finances. Theres a lot of I know I should be doing this but I dont know how to get started. Investing is a perfect example. Its the biggest reason I started my platform: to give actionable advice for women instead of just talking about them.
And its not womens fault. Theres a lot of advice saying you should be doing X but not a lot about how to actually do that. Advice like you should have a budget, but very few resources that truly walk you through budgeting and explain how budgets work for you. Thats why I love coaching. I get an hour to sit down with a woman across the table from me or on Skype and say, OK, what does your financial journey look like and what is the lifestyle you want? What questions do you have for me? And we come away from that hour with an actionable plan to start a budget and open a savings account with a particular organization. So many women know finances and money management are important but dont know how to get started.
MW:You mentioned privilege before. How do you connect with women who may not come from the same background as you but aspire to save more?
Dunlap:I think just acknowledging the privilege is important. I am white, I have parents who are still together (and even that is a privilege), I grew up middle class, I am cisgender. There is a ton of privilege before we even talk about money. I was lucky to graduate without student loans, but it was very much a collaboration process. They didnt just hand me a check. We sat down every month and went over how were going to pay for this semester. My parents had a college fund saved for me but it was also, Well, whats your contribution? What are you showing up with? I worked many jobs on campus and a summer job, too. We realized by my junior year we could do this without debt, and I got merit scholarships along the way.
You read certain advice and you go thats not me, or I have student debt, I cant do that. I think thats a dangerous habit to get into. I wrote in one of my blog posts about getting to $100,000 that I graduated without student debt, but I said I didnt want readers to blow me off because even though I dont have debt, I hope I can teach them things withmy story.
For example, many people think FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) is nearly impossible with children, so they blow off advice to get there with kids. I believe FIRE is not impossible with kids, but even still, there are other great pieces of advice FIRE bloggers have that you can take and make your own. I encourage people, even if it doesnt align with you completely, to look for another golden nugget that can help you on your journey.
MW:Aside from Her First $100K you have a 9-to-5 job in the finance world. What does that entail?
Dunlap:I work for Tomorrow, an app that offers free wills to everyone in America regardless of income. Were passionate to get people to take care of their documents. A lot of millennials dont realize wills are associated with stuff, but more than that, if youre married with kids, you can assign a guardian; if youre a millennial like me who runs a business, you can say how you want your assets to be divided up.
MW:Do you ever think about retirement? Are you planning for the long-term future in that way?
Dunlap:I opened up my Roth IRA when I was 21 during my first big girl job and Ive been saving for retirement ever since. When I did have a 401(k) through work, I had a 401(k), a Roth IRA and a SEP IRA through my business. The majority of that $100,000 will be in retirement savings. The only liquid assets I will have outside of those retirement savings will be for emergency funds, and everything else will be in retirement savings or nonretirement investment accounts. Im very much thinking about retirement.
A couple of days ago my dad and I sat down for about an hour and looked through all these different stocks, mutual funds and options. I realize compound interest is so important. I tell my clients as well, the moment you can start saving for retirement is a great moment because time is on your side.
MW:What should women keep in mind as they get started on their own financial planning?
Dunlap:Having a good financial education is a womans best form of protest. Money is freedom, money is power. We associate money a lot of the time with consumerist ideals and capitalism and big businesses and for most individuals, it doesnt sound great. Money is often associated with greed rather than abundance so I think reframing money for women is the most powerful tool. Rally against inequality in the workplace, in your own community. You can donate to the causes you believe in with money, you have the freedom to leave an unhealthy job or quit a 9-to-5 to start a business, travel the world, buy a house or have the life you want.
(This interview was edited for clarity and length
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