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8 Successful Women on How They Became Financial Pros

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Making your ‘dream job’ become your reality is a career goal millennials are not backing down from. In fact, millennials are reshaping their financial futures by placing a large emphasis on career success. According to the Spring 2017 Merrill Edge® Report 42% of millennials and only 23% of older generations (think Baby Boomers and Gen Xers), were focused on personal milestones of working at their dream job.

Why are millennials breaking away from the norm? Anna Colton of Merrill Edge says, “Even if it means they will be working forever, this generation is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve freedom and flexibility. When it comes to their finances, it’s more important than ever for younger generations to take a hands-on, goals-based approach to their long-term goals while prioritizing saving in the short-term.”

We rounded up words of wisdom from eight successful female leaders who were able to achieve financial and professional success.

1. "It's really important to save money and create a nest egg, become comfortable for yourself with what the nest egg is, and don't touch it. Leave it there. I always had a portion of my paycheck put into savings, and that was an easy automatic way. So if employers offer that, I would suggest that people sign up for that because then it's kind of out of sight, out of mind. When I started Spanx, I kept my day job for the entire time I pursued it. I didn't quit my job until I'd already landed Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. I was so careful, I [worked on Spanx] at night and on the weekends because I didn't not want to have income coming in." ㅡSara Blakely, Founder of Spanx (Business Insider)


2. "Start saving. Seriously! Find a really great financial planner. I wasn’t really making any money until my late 20s, and my financial adviser is a really good friend of the family, and she sort of insisted that I start, even when all I could do is put away a few hundred dollars a month. But it really makes a difference when you have someone who knows what to do with your money and invests it properly. You’d be surprised with a little bit of money, you can still invest and see growth, but you have to start young. A lot of people think, Well, I’ll do it when I’m really making money. But what if that doesn’t really happen? Start as early as you can with a financial advisor." ㅡ Ingrid Michaelson, Singer and songwriter (Cosmo)

3. "I think the number one thing you can do in your 20s is just have awareness of what your expenditures are. It will likely be the case that some of your expenditures are way higher than you allow yourself to believe. For me, in my 20s, I was spending 80% of my take-home income on clothing. I didn't want to admit that. If you had asked me in my 20s, I never would have told you that, but that was the reality. And I wish I could go back in time and have a rational conversation with myself as to better ways to spend that money." ㅡJennifer Hyman, Co-founder and CEO of Rent the Runway (Business Insider)

4. "What I wish I would've known is more principles and practices around saving and consciousness about how I was spending my money. And the concept of delayed gratification, which I was really not good at. When you're making a bunch of cash you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. ... If I had instilled the practice of 'Yeah, I want something, but do I need it? I'm going to wait,' one of two things is going to happen: Either the desire for it will go away, and now I've saved that money, or when I get it, I'm going to be much more grateful for it — and maybe it's on sale at that point." ㅡ Kat Cole, President of Focus Brands (Business Insider)

5. "Not having a financial plan is a plan — just a really bad one! Given what I see as a general lack of personal-finance education, it can be all too easy to wing it with your money. I was lucky enough to learn this lesson while still in my 20s, so I had time to put a financial plan into place for myself — and start LearnVest to help people nationwide do the same!" ㅡ Alexa von Tobel, Founder and CEO of, (Business Insider)

6. "If you learn to control your finances, you won't find yourself stuck in jobs, places, or relationships that you hate just because you can't afford to go elsewhere. Learning how to manage your money is one of the most important things you'll ever do. Being in a good spot financially can open up so many doors. Being in a bad spot can slam them in your face. And being broke gets old, so start making smart decisions now to avoid paying for stupid ones later." ㅡSophia Amoruso, founder of Nasty Gal and, author of "#GIRLBOSS," (From her book #Girlboss)


7. “Confidence is just entitlement. Entitlement has gotten a bad rap because it’s used almost exclusively for the useless children of the rich, reality TV stars, and Conrad Hilton Jr., who gets kicked off an airplane for smoking pot in the lavatory and calling people peasants or whatever. But entitlement in and of itself isn’t so bad. Entitlement is simply the belief that you deserve something. Which is great. The hard part is, you’d better make sure you deserve it. So, how did I make sure that I deserved it?”
ㅡ Mindy Kaling, Producer, writer and Star of The Mindy Project (From her book, Why Not Me?)

8. "Have a plan as to how you're going to invest your money wisely. No matter how much money you have, you need a plan for how to save your money and how to invest your money. Because ultimately the way that you're going to build long-term wealth for yourself is through investing. Don't think that something is going to just come to you. You have to be very proactive in how you're going to create that wealth for yourself." ㅡ Melanie Whelan, CEO of, SoulCycle (Cosmo)

This article was written in partnership with Bank of America and Merrill Edge. Find out more about how millennials are approaching their finances in the Merrill Edge Report: Spring 2017.

Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage/Getty Images

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