There is A LOT of career advice for women these days. A lot. Ask for the raise. Negotiate from the moment you get your job offer. Get a mentor; get a sponsor; build a personal board of directors.
And more women are taking charge of their careers than ever before, in ways that our mothers and grandmothers could never have imagined; and those opportunities are only expanding. For example, starting your own business has never been more accessible, as advances in technology have brought the costs down (cloud computing, anyone?) -- and funding that business is also becoming ever more do-able, as more angel networks and crowdfunding sites democratize investing.
But one of the most important pieces of career advice isn't being shared. It isn't really being talked about.
And that's to invest the money you earn. In a diversified investment portfolio. Some amount from every paycheck, like clockwork.
Ugh. I'd rather get a tooth pulled, you might be thinking. Without Novocain. After all, doesn't investing involve tons of work and learning lots of jargon, and doesn't it open you up to losing all your money??
No one has ever lost all of their money investing in a diversified investment portfolio.* And even if it requires some extra effort (though not nearly, nearly as much as what we are already doing, which is kicking a** every day at work), here's what it can do:
It can build your wealth... not by a little, but by enough to make a real difference in your life. The numbers: if you're earning $85,000 a year, having it grow in line with women's salary curves, saving 20 percent of it annually (as personal finance experts recommend), and putting that money in the bank -- after 40 years, you will have saved $1.5 million.
If you instead invest that same amount, in a diversified investment portfolio, in 40 years you'll have another $1.5 million, or $2 million, or more. (We calculated this using up markets and down markets, and you end up with these amounts the majority of the time.)
That's life changing.
Ok, you may be saying, I get how that can help me when I'm a (cool, hipster, awesome) old lady. But aren't we talking about my career? How about me right now?
1) Money is our number one source of stress. If you're concerned about money, you can lose two weeks a year in work productivity worrying about it. Taking action to be in greater control of your money, and earning more money over time by investing, can help us spend more time focused on work, rather than focused on not having money. So we can do a better job in our job.
2) Tell me: do you feel better about negotiating with your boss if you have more of a money cushion? Do you feel better about going for that new job, which will really stretch you, if you have more money to fall back on? Do you feel better about starting that new business you've always dreamed about if you have more money?
And do you feel better about marching into your boss' office with the proverbial "take this job and shove it" if you have more money? (Heck, do you feel better about ending that not-so-great-relationship-with-anyone if you have more money, as compared to being financially dependent on them?)
The answer to all of these is, of course, yes. Financial control and financial equality are freedom.
I'll even go so far as to say that without financial equality, the work of feminism -- that our grandmothers, our mothers and we have been doing -- is not complete. It can trap us in bad jobs and bad relationships. Can we really achieve equality without achieving financial equality?
If we're not investing, we're doing most of the hard work around money (you know, going to work every day, turning in that amazing design, landing the difficult-to-close client, beating our sales projections)... but we're only getting about half the reward. And so we're depriving ourselves of the ability to take on more risks in our career, to "play loose," to have more fun in what we do, to do more in our careers, if we don't have a financial cushion built up.
That's why investing your money can be some of the best advice for building an amazing career.
*Diversification does not ensure a profit or guarantee against a loss.
Sallie Krawcheck is working to reimagine investing for women, through her new venture, which is a digital investment platform for women. You can sign up for early access at www.Ellevest.com.
For information about Ellevest, a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) registered investment adviser and its financial advisory services, please visit the firm's website (www.ellevest.com) or the SEC's Investment Adviser Public Disclosure website (www.adviserinfo.sec.gov).