By Patricia Danflous
A woman in the United States has a nine out of 10 chance of being on her own financially at some point in her life. As a rule, most females experience anxiety, stress, confusion and oftentimes, guilt when it comes to finances. Amanda Steinberg empowers women to reset their financial buttons, re-write their money stories and feel comfortable as financial experts.
Women were wearing aprons and drying the wash on backyard lines in the 1950s when Amanda Steinberg’s grandfather took a stand that would give thousands of women a financially secure future. President of the New York State Federation of Teachers, Eliot Birnbaum was the major force behind state legislation establishing teacher retirement plans.
Forty years later, her mother danced on the dining-room table celebrating her post-divorce recovery; an MBA, a new career, and life in downtown Philadelphia with three young girls. “She started a career at forty-two years old. Boom. Mom hit the reset button. Game on,” Steinberg said with pride.
Today, Steinberg incorporates her grandfather’s passion for doing the right thing and her mother’s journey to value self-worth with go-to financial guidance, especially for women. The founder of Dailyworth.com, in-demand speaker, consultant and author, she knows firsthand about life’s financial ups and downs. At 25, she had it all, earning six-figures; at 30, she was $100,000 in debt and owed $60,000 to the IRS. But she found her own reset button which included financial guidance for other women.
Steinberg’s recently published book, “Worth It, Your Life, Your Money, Your Terms,” is a personal money story showcasing her ability to re-invent herself and her career while addressing the female relationship between self-worth and net-worth.
“My money story said that financial freedom was the key to a good life and that meant working hard and making a lot of money.” she related, vividly remembering her mother’s advice to ‘always be able to support yourself financially.’ “But once I had the money, I had no idea what to do with it. My ‘assets’ were actually driving me into debt. I had no emergency fund and no safety net to catch me if I ever fell off the high wire.”
When she fell, Steinberg started the climb up by closing the doors to her $700,000 home and headed out with her two children to a dingy apartment. When she had cash in hand, she remembers that she felt she could breathe again.
How did she know when to push reset? “The real trigger for me was coming to terms with the fact that everything I thought about money to be true, wasn’t,” she said. “I thought if I had reached the earning threshold that I met for many years, that my financial circumstances would be different, but they weren’t. It was a combination of my divorce, my debt, and a deeper understanding of all the things that I didn’t understand that showed me I really didn’t have a choice. It was kind of like in a video game when you die with no more hearts or coins left to keep you going. But then you can start all over again.”
The gaming analogy is one that hits home to the former Nintendo wiz who used lessons learned in adolescence to keep moving forward.
“There’s a lot of freedom that comes from associating serious topics with gaming,” Steinberg explained. “In a playful way, it gives you the ability to cycle through different types of successes and failures without the suffering you might experience in real life. If you lose or die in a game, you can start a new one every time; and you can get all the way up to the top levels and still die. If you remember that, you can apply it to your financial life. There are always opportunities to start again.”
Just as gaming has changed since Steinberg was a teen, she explained that there’s a new normal in the money world. “It’s no secret that wealth inequality is growing in this country,” she said. “Even upper-middle-class people, depending on how they design their life, feel poor. They’re not poor, but they feel poor. All of the entitlements that we’ve been sold, like cars and outfits and stuff, don’t financially work, so the new normal is living as far below your means as you possibly can and finding happiness in non-material things.”
As a recognized expert in personal finance, however, Steinberg emphasizes that financial peace of mind and stability is priceless. In “Worth It”, she shares a wide range of avenues to assist women in making money, saving money and overcoming overspending. Her easy-to-follow checklists and references are applicable to women in any phase of life, personally or professionally.
“It is never too late to hit the reset button and you can reset as often as you need to reach your goals,” she states.
For Steinberg, the goals are basic. “It’s about building really strong roots,” she said. “My goal is to own as much equity in a house as possible, to build as solid a foundation of investment accounts as possible and to really just solidify the habits of building my net worth rather than reaching a specific monetary goal. It’s more just knowing that I am being conscious and balanced to whatever extent I am able in making sure that my security is as much a priority as my freedom.”
It is never too late to hit the reset button and you can reset as often as you need to reach your goals
Tips to Stop Overspending
Use a debit card. Once a month, transfer whatever money you can afford to spend guilt-free on a separate debit card. When you run out of money, you run out. Knowing that you can spend this money with no guilt, you will discover a sense of freedom without sabotaging your bank account.
Challenge yourself. Whenever you spend money on something that you know you don’t need, match that amount and add it to your savings account. That way you will reflect a little more on what you are spending money on.
Build cash surplus. If you have spare change, use half to pay off credit card debt and put the other half into savings. Building cash surplus is the ultimate savior for overspenders. In most cases, the happiness in having cash saved is going to exceed the limited joy of buying something you don’t need.