<em>Ladies Who Launch</em>: It's Just Money, Honey

This Ladies Who Launch member lays down the law for anyone still who still blushes when writing an invoice.
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This week, financial consultant Galia Gichon cracks the whip on our bashful, coquettish ways when it comes to talking about and relating to money. I've seen so many women in our Incubator program feel perplexed and confronted by how to charge for their services. The issues range from not charging enough (and not feeling right about charging even what the market would bear) to others who choose an arbitrary price without really doing the market research to support that price. Money can be a loaded topic; but whether we talk about it or not, we're always using money and thinking about money, so we might as well get comfortable with its implications if for no other reason than to wise up to what it means for how we live and what we do. This Ladies Who Launch member lays down the law for anyone still who still blushes when writing an invoice.

Amy Swift
Editor In Chief
Ladies Who Launch

Top 5 Issues Women Have Regarding Compensation

by Galia Gichon
New York City Incubator
Down-to-Earth Finance

I have been helping women tackle their spending and investing obstacles for close to 14 years. My clients are smart and successful women from different backgrounds and professions. However, they share similar concerns about how much they are earning. While I focus on finding more money in their budget, developing positive money habits or understanding the latest mutual fund, I have also found that concentrating on making more money is just as important. Despite the fact that many of them have achieved enviable accomplishments, they still complain they are not making enough money. Even when I worked in the aggressive Wall Street arena, asking for more money was a challenge. Once we, as women, start asking for more money, better benefits and higher project fees, we will start to see the positive effects of the increased compensation seep into other areas of our personal finances.

We don't talk about money. Most of us are scared to talk about our income, or we don't want to deal with it and view it as a sign of insecurity. As a result, we do not have a good grasp of what our peers and colleagues are getting paid. Even if I don't want to publicly discuss my earnings, I am still introducing positive money discussions in my conversations, like mentioning the salary comparison web site (www.salary.com) or an online savings account that I found helpful. I've also enlisted a friend to join me in a seminar on mutual funds. Who knows -- we may eventually be discussing the latest article in Fortune magazine at a girl's night out over a glass of wine.

We don't ask for the raise or set higher fees as entrepreneurs. Women are often thought of as natural caretakers, but are we taking care of ourselves? Clearly not enough in the money department. I know I haven't always been aggressive in asking for raises or talked enough about my workplace accomplishments, and I certainly did not question the size of my bonus. Entrepreneurial women are also known for not charging high enough rates and undercharging project fees on consulting projects. From now on, when I ask for a raise, higher salary or fee -- I plan on tacking on 25% more than I had planned on asking. Even if my client doesn't give me that amount, I will at least start from a higher amount when bargaining.

We don't do enough market research on what we should truly be getting paid. Do your homework. My husband always reaches out to his network of old colleagues and college classmates to help him get further. That is a great place to start but I can also take it a step further by attending more networking events in my industry. This increases the likelihood of me finding out about advances in my industry. Another great tool I've found helpful is to keep a running notebook of my accomplishments on an ongoing basis. Whether you work for a company or for yourself, this is a great reference and will be helpful when asking for a raise, bigger bonus, or setting a project fee.

We don't really focus on how much we need. Sure we know how much we need to pay our mortgage or rent. But do we know how much we should save annually for our child's college education or to retire successfully? I recently scheduled an appointment with a fee-only independent financial planner and was enlightened to know exactly what I need to save for my retirement. Whether I save that or not, it takes the guesswork out of the equation. I know the lifestyle I want to live ... so if I'm not earning enough for that life, there is a huge incentive for me to go out and ASK for it.

We don't take into account our time off. It isn't uncommon to take a break from the work world, but if you do, be sure to invest in yourself. I took some time off to be with my children, but I continued to network in my industry, kept up on business reading, and attended industry conferences. When I was ready to go back to work, I found that it really didn't take that much time to jump back in because I had invested in myself and it paid off.

Galia Gichon is the Founder of Down-to-Earth Finance, an independent personal finance company. She has worked with thousands of people on their personal finances through seminars, guidebooks and consultations. She has over 14 years financial experience and an MBA in Finance. Galia is also the author of "My Money Matters". Visit www.downtoearthfinance.com or www.mymoneykit.com.

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