Money 101: How to Save, Spend, and Invest

Ashley Feinstein Gerstley aka The Fiscal Femme


By Alynn Beyder

I grew up with the idea that wealth translated into week long European getaways and gaudy etched “collectibles” to showcase during dinner parties, absorbing my soviet Russian born parents’ version of the American Dream. Not surprisingly, I learned how to spend but not how to spend wisely or how to save. I paid for my own college education (with the help of my dear friend Sallie Mae) and opened my first savings account when I was eighteen, barely being able to put away any money until I was in my early twenties. IRA? 401K? Index Funds? Fuhgeddaboudit.

Much like many millennial young women, I now find myself struggling between balancing my debt-to-income ratio and still making room for that Louis Vuitton Neverfull tote. Cue Ashley Feinstein Gerstley – a finance major and former investment banker turned certified life coach specializing in money and personal finance (aka the Fiscal Femme). Despite her background, Ashley found herself bleeding money after a job change and sought out help in the form of financial advice books, only to find over complicated jargon mainly published by disconnected old white men. Realizing how much more accessible and straight forward financial advice can be, she decided to launch a blog to share her relatable experience and money knowledge, gaining an impressive following which led to her own business. Now Ashley is out to share the power and freedom she experienced from her money journey with women everywhere! With her guidance and expertise, the conversation flipped from feeling at the mercy of money to confidently taking charge of personal finances. Six of us lucky ladies had the pleasure of meeting Ashley during an intimate session teaching us how to save, spend, and invest. Key takeaways include:
 

Budgets don’t have to be daunting

The idea of budgeting can often feel restricting. Change your mindset by replacing the word ‘budget’ with ‘happiness allocation.’ Know what’s actually happening and look at the next twelve months. Track your progress and make room for your passion projects by getting lean in other areas (i.e. skip that overpricing venti latte, maybe?). Remove negative attention from money by celebrating progress on your financial goals on a bi-weekly basis.

 


Set savings goals

It is not nearly as motivating to save money if you don’t actually recognize what you’re saving for. Save for retirement, kids, a down payment on your first house, or even an all-inclusive beach resort vacation. Depending on your personal timeline, focus on one to three savings goals at a time. Create buckets within your savings account for your separate goals.

 


Simplify your wallet

One of the best pieces of career advice Ashley can give is to have your finances in order. An analogy that stuck with me after our session was the comparison of money to food; calories in minus calories out. Keep track of what you spend, when you spend it and where you can cut back to achieve your savings goals. Consider cutting back on the number of credit cards you own and see what it’s like spending off of a cash pool for a week – keep it simple. 
 


We work hard for our money, why not prioritize paying ourselves first? 

In addition to one-on-one coaching, the Fiscal Femme offers a Savvy Investor Course, Student Loan and Debt Program, Financial Wellness Programs and an exciting 30 Day Money Cleanse encouraging women (and men!) to stay accountable for reaching their financial goals with the help of an interactive point system, community support, video classes and so much more! Take action – learn by doing.


Alynn is a Product Marketing Manager living in Brooklyn. Outside of her daily 9-5 and passion for writing, she volunteers with rescue dogs and makes time for travel. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram @lynn_with_an_a.