This past weekend at the Live Smart Series 2015, attendees were lucky enough to hear a keynote from Stephanie Ruhle from Bloomberg. It was Stephanie’s second time speaking to members of the Smart Girls sisterhood as she also delivered a keynote at last year’s conference. She is most certainly one of the most quotable people I’ve ever heard speak, as evidenced by the way attendees scribbled furiously in notebooks and tapped away live-tweeting, hanging on her every word. One of the most important topics she spoke about was women’s financial independence, and she dished out some incredibly real advice for all of us:
You will gain freedom, time, and space with financial independence.
Stephanie said, “When you have the ability to support yourself financially, it is truly a gift.” Rather than being concerned with making more money to be able to pay your next bill, you can be concerned with whether or not you actually enjoy whatever you’re doing to support yourself. You are giving yourself time to think and figure things out so that you can have a fulfilling life with the freedom to pursue your passions. With financial independence, you are giving yourself time to breathe, to not have to worry about whether or not your electricity is going to get turned off because someone else didn’t pay the bill on time. Freedom, time, and space are the keys to living an independent and rewarding life.
Financial independence is the most empowering thing– “you will never need anyone.
The aspects of freedom, time, and space that Stephanie mentioned are essential to becoming a Smart Girl that can’t be held back by anything. If you are reliant upon yourself and no one else for money to do what you want, your future becomes limitless. Even more important, when you know the only person you need is yourself, no one can hold you down. No one can say: “You can’t do that because I can’t/won’t support you.” Maybe you want to go on a month long vacation to Europe to eat your body weight in gelato. If you can afford the airfare and hotels, go for it. Or maybe you want to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Or, maybe you simply want to take a weekend to go to an awesome conference in New York City. Whatever it may be, if you can afford it, you can do it. And you can do it alone. With financial independence you will feel good and appear good, because you’ll know you can take on the whole world without anyone else by your side to have to hold your hand to lead you forward or keep you back.
“Going into credit card debt because something is on sale is bananas.”
Stephanie’s number one rule is this: If you don’t have it, don’t buy it. Unfortunately everyone is born with the syndrome of always wishing we had more. We see what someone else has and go out to buy it for ourselves because we think we deserve it. And to be fair, sometimes we do deserve some shopping therapy. But there is a limit to this and there is an issue that many people, especially women, don’t wish to recognize. Here it is: you aren’t going to die if you don’t buy that $300 handbag that’s on sale for $150, or that $100 pair of shoes for $75, or that entire outfit for $150 when it would have been $200 full price. If you don’t have the money in your bank account to be able to pay for something, then you should not be buying it. It’s not a case of, “Well I’m getting paid in two weeks so then I’ll be able to pay my credit card bill”; because guess what? In the next two weeks you’ll probably buy even more and then you won’t be able to pay back the debt you’ve accrued. It’s a vicious cycle that many people get caught in, and something that is super easy to avoid- which brings me to Stephanie’s final point:
“You might need to do less fun stuff.”
This is one of the most important points that Stephanie made and is definitely the hardest for people to hear. Your friends are going on this awesome spring break trip to an island and want you to come with. Or maybe the person you like suggests going clubbing with a group of friends this weekend. Maybe you just want to go shopping or to happy hour with co-workers. Whatever the opportunity is that presents itself, chances are you’re going to want to do it. But unless you’re making a lot (and we’re really talking a lot) of money, you’re going to have to learn how to say no. You’re going to have to deal with having FOMO once in a while. But in the end, when you can buy a new car or a new apartment and the rest of your friends can’t, you’ll be the one coming out on top. You’ll be the one who is financially independent, who doesn’t need to rely on anyone for anything, and who can then do whatever fun stuff your budget allows for.
To see more of what Stephanie and other speakers had to say over the weekend, search #LiveSmartNYC on Twitter!