Brittney Castro started Financially Wise Women in 2010 as a means of connecting with other women to help them reach their financial goals. She's encouraging, relatable and understands women's specific financial needs. We talked to Brittney regarding everything from her company, budgeting, the holidays and why it's OK to have Starbucks every day!
SheKnows: What made you want to focus solely on women and their finances, as opposed to helping men as well?
Brittney: We think differently about money and therefore need a different approach to financial planning in general. I sometimes feel there's a disconnect between male advisors and female clients — we sometimes leave feeling confused. Since 60 percent of finances are controlled by women, my mission is to be an advocate for women and money.
SheKnows: What are the biggest struggles women face regarding finances?
Brittney: We face unique challenges such as that we live, on average, five years longer than men. That's five more years of income we need. Also, women are typically out of the workplace between 11and 13 years to take care of kids. We're busy — constantly managing a variety of different roles.
SheKnows: What do you think women want out of finances and money?
Brittney: We want the security and freedom that money can bring. Women want security to take care of themselves, their families and their community. They want freedom to live the life they want, to travel, to be more holistic and to be more well-rounded individuals.
SheKnows: Share with us the best piece of financial advice you've ever been given.
Brittney: Always prepare for the unexpected. My parents did a wonderful job of living within their means, saving and having little to no debt. Also, that money is just a tool to creating whatever we want for ourselves in life. Money can mean anything to you, so be clear on what you want to use your money for and become a master.
SheKnows: What's the first step you would give a woman who wants to take control of her finances but has no clue where to begin?
Brittney: Ask for help. Read finance blogs, check out books on personal finance and get the assistance of a financial planner. It's hard to do it alone. Realizing you need to become educated is incredibly important.
SheKnows: With the holidays approaching, what are some tips to saving money this time of year?
Brittney: Have a budget! Give yourself a healthy allowance. Map out strategically who's going to get what and stick to it.
SheKnows: It's no surprise that women love shopping. What's the best way to shop on a budget?
Brittney: If you're making a big purchase, think about it for a night or two. Don't impulse buy. If you still really really need it after a day or two, then go out and get it.
"Talk about your goals, spending habits and strengths and weaknesses. It's hard and uncomfortable at first, but it's so important for couples to be able to talk about money together."
SheKnows: You recently stated that it's OK to purchase a coffee every day. Can you explain further?
Brittney: It's important to enjoy your money today. We all have different vices — define what brings you a lot of joy in life and use your money for those things. Spend in alignment with your values. If having coffee is important to you, then do it, but realize you might have to cut back on other areas, such as buying shoes or going out with friends. Find healthy boundaries and determine what brings you the most satisfaction.
SheKnows: What are your tips for discussing money with your partner without it causing a fight?
Brittney: Schedule time weekly so you discuss it on a regular basis. I call it "Team Huddles" or "Money Huddles." Have it on your calendar and give the discussion your undivided attention. This prevents you from coming home and nagging your spouse about their purchases. Talk about your goals, spending habits and strengths and weaknesses. It's hard and uncomfortable at first, but it's so important for couples to be able to talk about money together.
SheKnows: What is your long-term hope for Financially Wise Women?
Brittney: My long-term goal is to become an advocate for women and money and to really help empower women when it comes to financial planning. I want to continue educating women in their 20s and 30s through speaking engagements and webinars. Since only 8 percent of financial planners are women, I also want to help inspire other women to get into financial planning. We need more women!
SheKnows: And finally, what is your favorite thing about your job?
Brittney: I get to work with amazing women every day. I'm inspired by my clients to do more within my own life. Not only do I help them, they help me as well.
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