Women get a boost in financial education – and confidence

About midway through the Women Worth More financial education conference on Wednesday, attendees learned why they all received a balloon at check-in.

Speaker and entrepreneur Sara White, wife of the late NFL Hall of Famer Reggie White, instructed everyone to stand in small groups with their balloons. After tossing and catching their own balloons for a bit, White told folks to “throw the balloons to each other.”

Amid the laughter and bobbling came her main point of the exercise:

“It’s very difficult to juggle multiple things in our life, and be good at it,” said White, co-owner of CLT Residential Real Estate Partners.

“...I am choosing not to put everyone in front of me. I am choosing not to be a perfectionist and judge myself harshly. I am choosing not to worry about what others think of me and if I’m good enough. We all have imperfections.”

Held at the Harris Conference Center in Charlotte, the event seemed as much about boosting women’s esteem as it was about directing them to make smart money choices. And that was the point, according to Glen Wright, CEO of Charlotte-based financial planning firm Worth Financial Advisors, title sponsor of the event also hosted by Women’s Inter-Cultural Exchange (WIE).

He noted some planners’ reluctance to work with women. He also mentioned times when his wife, Kisha Wright, is overlooked in conversations about business, despite being owner of Versa Salon Spa in uptown.

And Wright also talked about being raised by a single mom who lost her home and retirement funds due to bad financial advice from someone she trusted.

“There are a lot of women just like my mother,” he said. “Because you take care of so many people, you have a sense of loyalty…(but) because of that sense of loyalty (you) don’t move forward financially.”

Worth Financial offered every attendee a complimentary consultation in a range of categories, including retirement planning, tax liability reduction, estate planning, monthly budgeting and investment efficiency.

Barbara Ellis, WIE board chair, urged attendees to take advantage of the offer. Planning ahead meant her son could graduate college with no debt, and her family could live comfortably in retirement following her 30 years at IBM.

“If your financial house is not in order, you cannot take the risk,” Ellis said. “When you have put time and effort into planning your future, it gives you the freedom to make the decisions that you need to make.”

Before she met Wright, joked speaker Jennifer Davis, CEO of her management consulting firm JP Davis and Associates, “my philosophy about money was spend what you want and print what you need.”

Her theme was about the triumphant woman, and Davis shared the story of her adult son, who committed suicide seven years ago. She writes about that time of her life in her book, “A Faith Greater than Grief...A Mother’s Journey.”

“I said ‘Lord, I cannot do this,’ Davis said of her grief. But then she heard an urging to “get up.”

“As triumphant women, we keep walking, we keep pushing...we do what we need to do to keep ourselves together.”

Speaker Molly Barker, founder of Girls on the Run - a program that encourages pre-teen girls to lead healthy lives - talked about her new nonprofit, Red Boot Coalition. A social movement now in 13 cities, the coalition started with a cross-country driving trip Barker took to talk to strangers about the polarized state of politics in America.

As original as her coalition might be, Barker said she was still impacted by the day’s talk, and activities.

“I’m not sure I’ve attended anything like this,” Barker said. “I love the idea of women’s worth.”

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