Getting Smart With Your Hard-Earned Money

Interview with Julia Menheere for the Women in STEM, Reimagined masterclass.

“The more you focus on your money, the less intimidating and the more fun it becomes to work with it,” states this week’s blog guest Julia Menheere. She has an MA in Economics and has worked at the Dutch Ministry of Finance and Uber. She helps clients go from being clueless about money to having a clear financial plan, grow savings accounts, and have an investing strategy. As Julia builds her finance coaching and training business, working as an analyst, living life with a newborn, having a rich social life, plus time to chill, she is the living proof it is possible to live life on your terms. 

She explains how she went from working on economic policy to helping people with their finances by sharing her own experience. When working in economic policy, she always heard the same advice: when investing, diversify, diversify, diversify. “But I didn’t know what that meant,” shares Julia. “I can’t buy all the stocks in the world; that’s impossible. But I did learn how to be smart with budgeting and saving. At Uber, I managed to save quite a bit of money while there thanks to those strategies.” 

With the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020, many people across the world are struggling right now. They have been laid-off, furloughed, or have had to adjust to very different working conditions. Many people did not have large savings to allow them to weather the crisis comfortably. 

Other than a crisis, why should people save?

“Personal finance is security,” states Julia. “However it’s more than that. Personal finance is freedom.” Having savings is security in case your job goes away, but it also means you will have more freedom. When you have months or a year of expenses, you are free to choose to do what you want. 

These are skills you can learn. “The more you focus on your money, the less intimidating and the more fun it becomes to work with it,” says Julia. “We cannot get around it; money is everywhere. We all have to pay our bills and support our lifestyle. We work about 40 hours a week. Why not spend an hour a month managing the money you worked so hard to earn? You don’t have to track daily. Keep it fun.”

What is the time that we should invest in our money? 

Julia recommends starting with an hour a month, then working up to an hour a week. She doesn’t think it’s feasible to track every day. When she makes a budget, she looks at her past expenses and what is important in her future. She has rent and other monthly expenses taken out of each paycheck automatically. The rest is “pocket money” for spending on dinner or other things. “Even if I spend all that money, I’ll be okay,” she shares. She then analyzes over time whether she always spends that cash or if she always has a consistent amount left. Does she need to adjust somewhere? Other than adjusting where necessary, it is a “set it and forget it” process. 

What if people feel like they have no money to save?

“If you have a meager income, it will be harder to save,” says Julia. However, there are people who earn below the median income in their country who are amazing at saving, and there are people above the median income who say they cannot save. “At some point,” states Julia. “It is a matter of choice. We have to own up to that for our own sake. Align the allocation with priorities.” Too often, as salary increases, so does spending. At the end of it, you maybe have a nice house or clothes, but no increase in freedom or security. 

Where do you start? Start by looking at your values. What are you okay with spending more money on? For example, Julia says that she doesn’t value having brand-name clothes, but she could spend a lot on them if she wasn’t careful. So she scaled what she spent on clothes back because she doesn’t value them. She does, however, value food and company, so she spends more on going out to dinner.

Missed Women in STEM, Reimagined? 

Julia Menheere. As she’s building her personal finance coaching & training business, working as an analyst, navigating life with a newborn, having a rich social life plus time to chill – Julia Menheere is the living proof that you can live life on your own terms if you take control over your money. She’s helped her clients from feeling clueless about money to having a clear financial plan, fatty savings accounts, and solid investing strategies implemented. Julia knows money and numbers: she has a research masters’ degree in economics, and experience working for the Dutch Ministry of Finance and top-tech firm Uber’s Money Department.

Dr. Nicole Tschierske is a positive psychology coach who helps women in STEM get noticed in their company so they attract their next opportunity with total ease.

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