Karen Finerman was raised in the Calvinist philosophy, so to speak.
“My mother always said, ‘I buy my daughters Calvin Klein clothes so that’s what they get used to. Then when they graduate college, they have to figure out how to buy them themselves.’”
That was the message — being financially savvy and independent — for more than 75 teenage girls and their mothers or grandmothers, who packed an auditorium at the JCC in Manhattan this week. It was the launch of Life$avings, a program designed to teach financial literacy to young women. The group already runs programs for college students, but this is its first time targeting the high school demographic.
“We really want to make them have the conversations at home with their parents … before you get your first credit card, before you buy your first car — while there still can be guidance from the parents,” said Deborah Rosenbloom, director of programs at Jewish Women International, which is funding the program with a grant from the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York.
(Full disclosure: Jewish Week Staff Writer Tamar Snyder is involved in coordinating the program.)
The mother-daughter brunch is the start of a series of hands-on workshops that JWI hopes to run in schools, synagogues and youth groups around New York. They will start with a two-part seminar at the JCC on Nov. 7 and 14.
Finerman, the keynote speaker of the event, is the CEO of a hedge fund who also appears as “The Chairwoman” on CNBC’s “Fast Money.” She urged the women in the room not to cede control over their finances, and to always be aware of where their money is going. “I never wanted to be in a position where I had to ask for permission before I could act,” she said. “You would never let someone else decide for you where to live, how to vote — why would you relinquish control over money?”
She instructed the group to always set a budget for themselves, and divide their income into spending, saving, investing and charity.
Finerman also encouraged the young girls to consider a career in finance, although she cautioned that some careers, like investment banking, are difficult to juggle with a family. And as the mother of two sets of twins, she would know.
She also knows about kids asking for the latest clothes, gadgets and toys, but she said, “Having your own money never goes out of style.”
Charlotte Triefus brought her daughter Hannah, 13, to the event, to jumpstart a discussion about money. “We never talk about this,” said Charlotte. “I’m trying to put her on a budget. … I thought this would be a good way to open the conversation.”
Sara Luce, 21, a student at Hunter College, came to the program with her mother, Sally Placksin. Luce works part time, but says she tends to “bring home cash from one shift and spend it before the next.” Placksin, who said the project was “a great approach,” hopes her and her daughter can talk more about money now.