( This interview is a part of the Ethics, Values & Personal Finance Week. )
Today, I am fortunate to present to you an interview with two of the divas of the personal finance blogosphere. My first guest today is the Silicon Valley Blogger (SVB for short) from the blog The Digerati Life and my second guest is Tricia from the blog Blogging Away Debt. Both SVB and Tricia are super moms who juggle work, kids, and running the household. And, they are both veteran personal finance bloggers with very popular blogs. On their blogs you can find droplets of wisdom on topics ranging from debt to entrepreneurship, tips for frugal living to confessions of setbacks, motivating stories, life experiences and a myriad of other practical money related topics! Who better to discuss issues related to Ethics, Personal Finance and Women than these amazing ladies? So, let’s begin our little chit-chat!
ISPF: Many women in the work force get slightly lower salaries than their male counterparts, even though they are equally skilled. Obviously, this is not a problem that is going to go away overnight and we women need to gain ground inch by inch. What advice would you give for women out there in this situation?
SVB: It is true that biases in the workplace exist. However, I feel that these concerns are found in certain industries and job markets more than in others. In the field where I work, I have not seen these differences as much as I would expect it would be felt in the fields of management, marketing or even business. The creative field tends to be gender blind and sometimes I even think that because a smaller number of women are found in my line of work, companies have taken steps to accommodate them better. This of course, has been more my experience where I reside and work -- it could be a different story elsewhere. My basic advice is for women to learn their craft well and to be a performer. A good work environment will nurture strong performers when they see them, regardless of their gender or even ethnicity. A workplace that doesn't function this way may not be worth working in at all, but I can see how many people don't have a choice.
Tricia: With the positions that I have held, I haven't experienced receiving a lower salary than my male counterparts. But if I ever was in that situation, I would still work my hardest and keep my eyes open for new opportunities.
ISPF: Women have to face the difficult question of whether to go to work to help improve the financial situation at home, or stay at home to help raise the kids in a better fashion. I don't think there is a right or wrong answer to this question. How did you deal with this in your personal life and what have you learnt from your decision?
SVB: This is a good question. I'm actually one of Dr. Laura Schlessinger's listeners. Dr. Laura is an avid proponent of stay at home parenting or mothering, and I do agree with her on many counts. However, I grew up in a household with two income earners. Both my parents worked while I grew up and was raised in a family that included extended family members as well. I actually had a very happy childhood so the fact that my parents both worked had no impact on my development. To this day, it's my mother who works and is a globe trotter, while my father is retired. So I suppose this influenced how my family lives today and how we've raised our children. We have extended family helping out while I actually work and my husband attends to his business. Both my husband and I have flexible time schedules, which truly makes a difference to our situation. One of the big reasons that we had for having children later in life was to be able to have the means to be financially stable enough to have this flexibility in raising our children later on. And so far, this has worked out quite well for us.
Tricia: With our situation, I am the breadwinner for our family. I deal with the guilt on a daily basis that I cannot be there for our son. It wasn't the life I imagined as a little girl (I wanted to be in charge of the home life), but you do have to do what you have to do. I hope at some point in the near future things can change.
ISPF: "Learning starts at home" they say. How do you teach your children basic money lessons that are solidly grounded in good values and principles?
SVB: To be honest, my kids are still really too young to grasp the concept of money. However, at this time, we are discovering what our children are interested in the most. If we can tie in their interests to money principles, then we try to shed light on these concepts. Otherwise, we just let them have their fun and be kids. I am surrounded by other families who press the significance of extra curricular activities on their kids. I'm not this type of parent -- I prefer not to "schedule" children into such activities. I would much rather have my children find their own interests and enjoy being kids. My eldest child who is in nursery school is turning out to really enjoy Math and learning the value of accomplishment. These will be good stepping stones to learning more about money lessons as he grows older.
Tricia: My son is only 5 years old right now. I've been teaching him simple concepts about the roles that banks play and how to spot the sales in the grocery store. I think one of the greatest gifts I can give him is the opportunity to learn from my example. I try to explain to him certain things I am doing money-wise and spark his interest. I don't push, though. I don't want him to end up rebelling.
When he gets older, we will open a savings account for him and let him handle the paperwork. I want him to be as hands on as he can be and watch his money grow.
ISPF: Women tend to be less interested in finance related issues than men in general. What got you interested in finances? Was there a defining "Aha" moment or was it something you were interested in since childhood? How can we get more women to take a more personal interest in their finances?
SVB: I have always been a Type A personality who is motivated to strive towards achieving goals. I believe it was natural for me to extend this feeling towards taking control of our finances. I wasn't interested in finances until I got out of college, when I realized I was on my own and needed to take care of myself. I felt that like anything else I had faced in my life, this was another challenge I sought to master so I went ahead and educated myself in the area. I then found it very interesting since I enjoy studying psychology and human behavior a lot -- hence the emphasis towards subjects and stories of behavioral finance in my blog. One way I hope to get more women to be more interested in finance is to discuss my own experiences in the area and hopefully impart the fact that it's not as boring nor as challenging as it may seem. Finances can be looked upon more simply so that it can be less intimidating to anyone. Unfortunately, there are women who are just not in a position to take hold of their finances, unless they've started out tackling such issues in their lives as single individuals. The dynamics of a family can be such that it just falls naturally on a breadwinner to do this work. But perhaps some financial responsibilities can be handled by the family in such a way that tasks and obligations are reasonably shared.
Tricia: I have been interested in finance since I started college. Now, that doesn't mean I handled our finances well, because I didn't. But, I enjoyed balancing my checkbook and keeping track of expenses. I had the mechanics down, just not the concept of "spend less than you earn."
I'm not sure how to get more women interested in their finances. I think it would be beneficial if personal finance was taught in public schools. Perhaps that could spark more interest among both genders.
ISPF: This question is at the foundation of the Carnival of Ethics, Values and Personal Finance. I have asked this in previous interviews and each person's view is different. So, let me ask again. How do your personal values impact your everyday financial decisions?
SVB: I'm actually glad that both my husband and I have very similar values in the financial realm. We're both libertarians and somewhat fiscally conservative in our approach to finances. We're very middle of the road types who apply reason and logic (as much as we are able) to our decisions. We are moderate about our views of spending, saving and investing. I'd say we're pretty boring, for the most part, with how we conduct our finances but we're mostly in agreement about money. This is good, so that our arguments on the subject are few and far between. The most adventurous thing we've done is to start a business and try entrepreneurship. We feel that we probably conduct ourselves like the majority as far as financial values are concerned. We're not strongly politically, environmentally nor socially inclined when it comes to money -- we're your average family trying to carve out a living in the good old US of A. But yes, we strongly believe in capitalism that's for certain!
Tricia: I grew up believing that you work hard for your money. The thought being that if you worked hard and honestly, you were a good person and good things will come your way. I still believe that, and while I may start feeling down about our current financial situation, I know it is for a reason. We just have to remain honest and work hard and good things will happen.
That is really inspiring! I would like to thank SVB and Tricia very much for taking the time to interview with me. I really appreciate that they responded with such earnestness and honesty! You can read more about what SVB has to say at The Digerati Life or subscribe to her feed here. You can read more about what Tricia has to say at Blogging Away Debt or subscribe to her feed here. Remember to come back tomorrow to read about another interesting interview inspecting issues related to Ethics, Personal Finance and the Youth.
And now I open the mike for discussion. Do you agree with SVB and Tricia? Do you have anything to add? What would your answers be for the above questions?
( This interview is a part of the Ethics, Values & Personal Finance Week. )