Taking Charge of Your Finances

September 19, 2016

On Sept. 12, 2016, NYWICI’s Cocktails & Conversations featured a panel discussion “Investing in Your Career” on financial issues facing women throughout their careers: How much to contribute to a 401K, saving to have a child or for retirement or tackling life after divorce.

The panel was moderated by Hannah Storm (2nd from left), an award-winning journalist, producer & director (@HannahStormESPN). Panelists included Dyllan McGee (1st from left), founder & executive producer, MAKERS (@dyllanmcgee); Kathy Murphy (2nd from right), president, Personal Investing, Fidelity Investments;  Elisabeth Rosario (center), director of communications at Spark Capital (@emrosario) and Kristine Welker (1st from right), a past NYWICI president and a media consultant (@kristine_welker).

The panelists shared their own experiences dealing with personal financial matters and challenges and gave advice how to get started and be in the know, no matter where you are in your personal career, by putting a consistent effort into devoting time to learning new skills, nurturing your mind and body and saving and investing for a secure financial future.

According to Kathy, who kicked off the evening with a small keynote address, women outlive men — and nine out of 10 women will be solely responsible of their finances later on in life. Moreover, 50% of women are the primary bread winners in their families, and they make 80% of purchasing decisions — but only one out of four boomers and Gen X, one out of five Gen Y and only 12% of Millennials consider themselves the primary decision makers when it comes to personal finances.

Women have a confidence gap; they don’t feel comfortable talking about money. They like to get educated and organized before they take the first step whereas men learn as they go.

Here are a few key takeaways from the panelists:


  • If you don’t get started, you never make enough money [to last through retirement].
  • We were raised not to talk about money. It is not lady like. It is intimidating. We are afraid to ask questions. Investing is not that hard: Cash in the bank, bonds or stocks, depending on how much risk tolerance you are willing to take.
  • 100 dollars a month saved in your 20s will turn into more than 700 dollars a month when you retire, if invested early on.
  • General rule: Spend 50% of what you made on essential expenses like food, rent, mortgage; save 10-15%; put 5% in a readily available emergency fund — and the rest is for you to spend.
  • Retirement formula: By the time you are 85, you should have eight times your annual income saved.
  • If you don’t open a 401K through your job, set up a personal IRA that mimics that.


  • Girls stop to speak up because they feel it makes them masculine. Girls in sport are different. Have faith in yourself.
  • I wished my parents would have been more proactive to help me get started with my finances.
  • Never take a job only for the money. Take a job that you are passionate about. Then it builds up. You can’t have money just as the end game.


  • In our family, my husband and I have a time scheduled each month to talk about our investments. I made it a point and started educating myself about finances.


  • I am good at spending. And not stressing. But talking about finances is very important.
  • My husband handles all the finances, and I am not proud of that as a feminist.


  • I started in college and worked at a bank and learned about finances. But instead of saving I paid off college loan debt early on. My parents were new immigrants, and I felt that I had to take care of my finances and debt early on. I invested in my career. Family, kids and a mortgage are still far away. 


Photo this page and slideshow images on homepage: Mark Von Holden

​Thank You to Our Event Sponsor:

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Posted by: 
Tekla Szymanski

NYWICI Must Reads September 16, 2016

NYWICI Member Empowerment Grant

September 12, 2016
New York Women in Communications' annual Member Empowerment Grant is for NYWICI members of at least three consecutive years who want to pursue professional development opportunities. Awards are granted for continuing education courses, conference attendance, career coaching and more.
The deadline for the 2017 Spring grant is April 14, 2017. Learn more about the application process and apply online today!
We asked 5 previous winners about their experience with the grant, its application process and why they applied: 

MEG Q&A1. What prompted you to apply for the grant?

Rachel Bowie (2013): My day job was focusing more and more on packaging when it came to the stories I was writing. I heard about Blogshop, a Photoshop boot camp for bloggers that teaches you the basics in a 48-hour workshop. MEG was my ticket to a class that would drastically enhance my digital creativity and visual eye long-term.

Megan Hess (2015): Taking a web development class — a true coding course, not one I could do on my own time online — had long been on my career wish list. There was only one thing stopping me from enrolling: the high price tag. The NYWICI MEG grant offered a way that I could finally make that dream happen.

Erica Martell (2013): I was inspired to apply for the grant while reading Brene Brown's "Daring Greatly," which empowered me to step out of my comfort zone and make a difference in my career ambitions.

Bridget Thoreson (2015): I began [a certificate] program on my own. When I realized I was eligible for the most recent round of MEG applications, I knew that’s what I’d want to use the funding for — it is making a huge difference in how quickly I’m able to complete the program.

Melissa Weisstuch (2014): I was interested in taking some courses to further my experience in digital marketing. The tools and technologies continue to evolve, and the job I held at the time did not provide the opportunity to use these tools.


2. What did you think of the application process?

Rachel Bowie: It was really organized and efficient. I found that planning ahead made all the difference, especially since you need a letter of recommendation. You need to allow yourself time to have a clear picture of what you’re applying for (the competition is steep!), but also allow time to loop in the person who’s writing your letter of recommendation so they best understand your career aspirations and goals for the grant.

*Editor's Note - A letter of recommendation is not required, just the name of a NYWICI member who will serve as a reference.

Megan Hess: What I liked best about the application was that it cut to the chase — there weren’t pages upon pages of essay questions, as there are for some grant applications. The interview process was similarly ‘let’s-get-down-to-business,’ which I appreciated.

Erica Martell: The application process was fairly painless. The interview was a little intimidating when meeting with 5 top business women who were interested in talking about me.

Bridget Thoreson: I thought the whole process was very simple and straightforward. It was really nice to have the interview with a panel and to get the opportunity to meet so many women who are high up in the organization.

Melissa Weisstuch:  The written application was very straightforward, as was the interview.


3. How did you use your grant?

Rachel Bowie: I enrolled in a two-day workshop called Blogshop, taught by west coast blogger Bri Emery of Design Love Fest and Angela Kohler, a photographer. It was hosted in New York in Brooklyn and it was fantastic.

Megan Hess: A 10-week front-end web development course at General Assembly.

Erica Martell: I used the MEG grant for a communications course curriculum at Landmark Education (two part course).

Bridget Thoreson: I’m using my MEG funding to take classes at NYU. I’m enrolled in the School of Continuing and Professional Studies Certification in Editing. I need to complete two more courses in order to earn my certificate.

Melissa Weisstuch: I took two courses at the New York University School of Professional Studies – one provided an overview of various digital technologies and the other covered search marketing including SEO and Google AdWords.


4. How has the grant made a difference in your career?  

Rachel Bowie: It’s made a huge difference in my career. Having Photoshop skills has helped me with everything from building design files for video projects to editing art for blog posts to visually mocking up ideas for meetings and presentations. There’s not a week that goes by that I don’t open Photoshop and use my skills — and I’m not a graphic designer, I’m a writer!

Megan Hess: Not concretely just yet — but I’ve already found small ways to incorporate it into projects and tools that we’re building in the Mashable newsroom. Our product team is working on building a new content management system right now, for example, so I’ve already found my development experience extremely useful in communicating to them what kind of changes we should make in the new CMS.

Erica Martell: I had a lot of experience with managing projects and tasks. This focused on how to manage and work with people more effectively, which helped transform my relationship with clients. I learned how best to ascertain their needs so I could deliver.

Bridget Thoreson: I think the certificate will help me make an important career transition. I’m still in the middle of the program, so I haven’t completely earned the credentials. However, the knowledge I’ve gained so far has made a huge impact on how I see my career and industry and has definitely helped strength existing skills and develop new ones. 

Melissa Weisstuch: The project I completed for the search marketing course has already had an impact on the nonprofit organization I promoted on AdWords.


5. Do you consider the MEG a valuable benefit of NYWICI membership?

Rachel Bowie: MEG is a huge benefit of a NYWICI membership. It is such a gift to have an organization that supports you regardless of the career phase you’re in. I also like that you first have to show commitment to the organization with a handful of years of service — then NYWICI reciprocates by investing back in you.

Megan Hess: An extremely valuable one. It shows that NYWICI is committed to rewarding and furthering the education of its committed members, not just potential new members and/or students. The media industry is a fickle one, and programs like MEG attract the type of media professionals who want to make a difference.

Erica Martell: Yes, it’s a great opportunity to give back directly to NYWICI members.

Bridget Thoreson: Absolutely. I’m not aware of any other programs for getting general funding for career skills. So many careers require skills that are constantly evolving and it can keep difficult to keep up. Being part of an organization that can help you stay ahead is a huge draw. 

Melissa Weisstuch: MEG is an incredible benefit. It allows the grantee to further her knowledge in an area of her choice that will benefit her career.


6. Any advice for members considering applying for a MEG?

Rachel Bowie: Think hard about your career goals and what experiences/skills — big or small — could enhance that trajectory. The skill you’re looking to add may not cost thousands of dollars, but it would make a difference if someone could take the financial burden off of you. I like to think of MEG as a source of encouragement to not let go of my interests and dreams.

Megan Hess: Don’t just think about how the MEG will affect you — think about how you can use it to give back to others, including the NYWICI community.

Erica Martell: Do your homework about where you’ll get the most benefit from a grant. Whether it be digital marketing at NYU, pursuing an MBA or project management, consider your career goals.

Bridget Thoreson: Your application is centered on how you would use the grant, so be sure to think long and hard about which step is best for you right now, and be sure you can articulate how the MEG will impact your career.


7. Are there one or two quick tidbits of knowledge that you learned through your MEG-funded program that you can share with your fellow NYWICI members?  

Rachel Bowie: It’s a lot easier to make your blog look professional and polished than you think. Knowing just a few Photoshop shortcuts are proof — a little goes a long way.

Megan Hess: When thinking about responsive design for a new website, it helps to think mobile first — and then expand out. Programming isn’t about learning a particular programming language; it’s about learning how to think like a computer.

Erica Martell: Communications is more about listening than speaking.

Melissa Weisstuch: Did you know that Google offers AdWords grants for nonprofit organizations? The grants provide up to $329

Posted by: 
Tekla Szymanski

NYWICI Must Reads September 2, 2016

September 2, 2016
Posted by: 
Tekla Szymanski