Motherly Collective

Managing your finances is always a struggle. When you’re also taking care of a little human who fully depends on you, the need for good money management becomes even more real—and so important for both of your futures. As a mom and an entrepreneur, I learned this lesson multiple times in my life.

Growing up, we didn’t have much but we had enough. Both my mom and my nanna were entrepreneurs in their own right. Mom owned her own ice cream shop in a small village by the sea, balancing busy summers with sleepy winters. Nanna worked and led a small team as a seamstress, up to the ripe age of 90, raising kids in the process.

I learned how to read checkbooks and balance sheets at 10 years old. If Excel had taken off then, I would have joined college as a pro. Instead, I mastered it during college. And my degree in finance afforded me a unique opportunity not many get: a job at Goldman Sachs. I spent 10 years working at Goldman Sachs’ head office in New York. Investing, building tech, managing teams—and living paycheck to paycheck in the mecca of finance. I even had to pay for rent on my credit card. Thank you, student loans and ridiculous big city rent.

It didn’t take long to notice: I wasn’t the only one. I met more women like me. We all had amazing jobsbut we were stuck with tons of student loans, and we couldn’t get any decent financial advice without going on long, tiring Google-search rabbit holes.That’s when I realized an unfortunate truth: the only ones who can get “real” financial advice are those who have over $100k in their bank. The rest of us are left to fend for ourselves.

I had enough.

I started to apply what I learned at work (and in my personal life) to crack the code behind “the money game.”

And that’s when my startup, Penny Finance, was born. I wanted to provide accessible financial education to help women like me, who craved a platform where they could teach themselves about finances–so they could get out of debt, support their families and nurture both individual and generational wealth.

Soon after, I found out I was pregnant. After a nine-month journey that was FAR from Instagram-able, I welcomed my daughter, Charlie. The ups-and-downs health-wise were one thing. But, financially? Every day my bank account screamed at me.

Sure, my days of paying for NYC rent on a credit card were over. But my money worries were still very present–and very real. I had a business to run, and a team who supported me. I needed to pay bills at home. And of course, I had to plan for Charlie’s future too.

With so many competing priorities, where do you start?

Here are three practices I used to navigate this whirlwind of financial decisions.

Create a debt repayment plan

It doesn’t matter if it’s a credit card, mortgage or student loans. Plan to pay off at least the minimum payment PLUS change. Even $20 extra goes a long way to repaying debt faster.

And please, don’t skip your minimum payments. Ever. As painful as it may feel at the moment, it will only cause more headaches in the long run. Think of it this way: the faster you pay off your debt, the less you’ll have to worry about pesky interest stealing cash away from your kid’s future.

Plus, baby’s gonna keep you awake anyway, at least you’ll nap better if you know that you have a plan to pay it all off. That’s what happened to me.

Save, save, save

Even if you don’t know what you’re saving for yet. Open a high-interest savings account, and set up a monthly automatic e-transfer from your checking account. The amount doesn’t mattert; whether it’s $20 or $200, it’s the habit that counts.

Later on, you can choose to keep it as an emergency fund, or move it into a “child-friendly” alternative–such as a 529 account for their college funds, or a custodian account for you to start saving on their behalf.

Invest in a Roth IRA

Most people think of a Roth IRA as a way to save for retirement only. But they can be a savvy-with-money mom’s hidden superpower. I only realized this after I had Charlie, but some Roth IRAs allow you to withdraw funds for childbirth, adoption or college expenses as well.

The Roth IRA also has two big advantages compared to a savings or high-interest savings account: investing and tax savings. You’ll probably accrue more money if you invest the cash you have inside the Roth IRA. And, you get tax benefits later on. So it’s a great way to save for your child’s future. Looking back now, I know the journey is far from over. Charlie’s turning 2 this year. And my “first child,” Penny Finance, is almost 4. They both drive me crazy most days. But even on those days, I know they’re worth every penny. (Pun intended.)

This story is a part of The Motherly Collective contributor network where we showcase the stories, experiences and advice from brands, writers and experts who want to share their perspective with our community. We believe that there is no single story of motherhood, and that every mother's journey is unique. By amplifying each mother's experience and offering expert-driven content, we can support, inform and inspire each other on this incredible journey. If you're interested in contributing to The Motherly Collective please click here.