The managing of money

A tiny annual check I receive as library royalties for my two books — but it all adds up!

By Caitlin Kelly

There’s a whole new crop of young women offering financial advice to their peers, writes The New York Times:

But rather than rallying behind meme stocks or the latest hot crypto trend, she [Tori Dunlap] is part of a growing tribe of largely millennial women aiming to change the narrative around women and money, often by drawing from their own experiences. There’s Berna Anat, a.k.a. Financial Hype Woman; Melissa Jean-Baptiste, the Beyoncé of Personal Finance, also known as Millennial in Debt; Delyanne the Money Coach; and Haley Sacks, founder of Mrs. Dow Jones and Finance Is Cool.

I find this fascinating and encouraging, since so many women earn less than men and often outlive a husband or male partner.

I learned early to handle money because at 19 I was living alone in downtown Toronto on a monthly trust fund, thanks to my maternal grandmother — $350/month. Out of that enormous sum, I paid rent on a studio apartment ($160), food, phone, answering service, subway, clothes, haircuts, dental care.

Oh and tuition and books for University of Toronto.

My father had suddenly and without warning sold the home I lived in and decided to move to Europe. He never offered a dime and he was making enough I doubted I would even qualify for student aid.

So I started writing and selling my photos freelance to supplement my income.

I still remember a can of tuna cost 89 cents then. I guess I ate a lot of it!

At 25, I inherited some money, enough it scared the hell out of me — as I had a good staff newspaper job and didn’t need it. I stuck it in the bank until I was 30 and moved to New York, grateful as hell to have a decent downpayment for the apartment I’ve lived in ever since. I could never have afforded it without that family help.

But no one in my family — and there was plenty of money sloshing around (like a spare $150,000 to pay cash for a house in Ireland) — ever discussed how to save and invest. I learned to be frugal, obviously, and that was a powerful and important lesson; when you’re living on little and have no one to turn to, you have to.

And since my family was far away, there was one to ask for advice or help if something terrible happened. And it did…I was attacked in my $160/month apartment when a man leaned in my ground-floor bathroom window and tried to pull me out (mid-bath.)

I left the next day.

So all I’ve really known about managing money is to make as much of it as possible — and save a lot! Only after maybe a decade of hard saving (like 15% every year) did I feel I’d accumulated anything. The past few years were a godsend because the markets, for my investments, returned tremendous gains, which I needed since freelance writing fees are dropping every year.

I did great for years, alone, freelance in the 1990s, managing to pay for health insurance ($500/month alone) and mortgage and maintenance. I’m fine buying and wearing consignment shop clothing and shoes, and have some pieces I’ve worn for a decade, quality bought affordably. So I’m OK pinching pennies when need be. I tend to keep things for decades.

When I do have more to spend, and look at buying some lovely new clothes or shoes, I often break into a sweat of anxiety. Crazy. Not fun.

Managing money can feel terrifying if you’ve never done it and don’t even know who to trust for solid advice.

I’ve never touched an ETF or index fund, (as many people do) but have several mutual funds and four Canadian bank stocks — Canadian banks are notoriously conservative and consistently profitable; Canada never had a 2008 bank crash as Americans did, (thanks to lending millions to people with no ability to actually pay their mortgages.)

I read a few finance books, but the basics never change — live on less than your income, saving and investing what you have. Rinse and repeat!

I now read the Financial Times daily, even though it’s mostly for institutional investors moving millions. It helps me see where the global economy is going and which companies and sectors are doing well or terribly.

My peak earning years are over, sorry to say, so managing every dime is really essential now.

How are you managing your money?

Where did you learn how to do it?

10 thoughts on “The managing of money

  1. My parents gave me the basics before I went off to college, and I learned how to manage money during those four years. As soon as my current job allowed me to, I started saving money and building a savings account. It was and still is slow-going. Even though I earn more now, expenses have gotten more expensive, so I can only put so much away.
    Luckily, my grandfather left me enough money to wipe out my college debt and build up my savings account. I’m in a better place financially now because of him, and I’ll always be grateful for that. And even though there are numerous expenses, I still usually have enough to put a little bit of money away in both my savings account, which has become a rainy day account in case of emergencies, and a second account which will hopefully help pay for a house someday. I’ve also been conservatively investing, and earning a tiny bit back from that as I’ve picked up tips from that.
    Add in a small income from writing (which has earned more over the years), and although at times things can get rough, things are looking up. I just hope they continue to go well from here on out.

      1. Maybe. I’m searching for a new home, maybe an apartment or a starter home, but the market is tough. Really makes me hope all the predictions my Tarot cards keep making for the month of May work out.
        That, and that nu book releasing on the 10th does well.

  2. Jan Jasper

    Years ago I was an active investor for a while, and I made substantial money then lost most of it, either to fees (due to my over-trading) or market downturns. I think index funds and mutual funds are a great idea. I no longer own individual stocks or do any active trading. I use a CFP that my late husband hired years ago, and I’ve stuck with his firm… There are probably ways I could save a few bucks here and there, that I don’t always attempt, for certain reasons. For example, I don’t buy used books because there’s no chance the author will get royalties – which they probably won’t get anyhow, but still. So I only buy new books… I could shop around and possibly save a little money on car insurance, but I know they’ll check my credit rating, which nobody can do now because years ago I put a “freeze” on. I won’t lift that, even for a few days, because I am not willing to take any chance that a criminal could masquerade as me and open new a credit account in my name….I almost never buy anything new for my house, I go to auctions and estate sales – but it’s more for aesthetic reasons than to pay less. I rarely buy new clothes, I prefer consignment shops.

  3. I left home very young as well and my family never taught us about or discussed anything financial with us. as a result, my experience with finances has been completely trial and error, heavy on the error side.

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