Event Recap: Finding Financial Freedom

Written by Holly Zhang on Sunday, 29 May 2022. Posted in Event Recap

Graphic by Lily Wei for Girls For Business

On April 24th, Girls For Business hosted our second April event, ‘Finding Financial Freedom’. The event featured business panelists and co-founders of InvestInHer Neha Basu and Katelyn Cai along with Janvi Srivastava. They shared their advice in financial literacy, taxes, and personal budgeting!

Neha Basu is a rising freshman at MIT who has various interests in math, economics, and engineering. She is also an economics challenge enthusiast and started InvestInHer to make the field of economics more inclusive for everyone. In her free time, Neha loves drinking coffee and working out. 

Janvi Srivastava is a sophomore at BASIS Scottsdale who has experience with both leading an Economics and Finance club and competing in economics tournaments. Aside from economics, she loves neuroscience, artificial intelligence, and playing the violin. 

Katelyn Cai is a rising freshman and Robertson Scholar at Duke University as well as a nationally-ranked extemporaneous speaker. She is an advocate for equity and enjoys hanging out with friends, trying new food, and playing with her Border Collie Stella in her free time.

The panelists started off by giving a brief introduction to budgeting. A budget is essentially just a plan of how much you are going to spend on your wants and needs in a period of time. They can be short-term (monthly) or long-term (over the span of a few years), but it is recommended that you start with a short-term budget which you can adjust over time. As for the two types of budgets, micro-budgets involve dividing your spending into many categories and setting aside a fixed amount for each one. Macro-budgets only divide spending into “necessities” (essentials that you must buy) and “wants” (desires that you don’t need) and are generally more flexible. Either way, budgeting ensures that you have a rainy day fund for small, emergency expenses, keeps you accountable for purchases, and ensures that you won’t be in unmanageable debt. As a quarter of Americans currently have no retirement savings, savings will also make your life easier in the long run by ensuring that you become financially independent, building an emergency fund, and earning you interest over time. Finally, the four essential steps to building a budget are…

  1. Determine net income
  2. Subtract necessities
  3. Subtract initial savings (~1-10%)
  4. Spend/save what’s left

Moving forward, the panelists gave an overview of taxes and the types of taxes. Taxes are compulsory financial expenditures paid to the government, meaning that they are used to fund government programs and spending, and tax evasion is punishable by the law (up to a $100,000 fine). While there are over nine types of taxes, the three main types are sales, payroll, and income taxes. A sales tax is one that applies to the goods/services that you pay for. You will see these at malls, restaurants, grocery stores, etc. A payroll tax is money withheld from your paycheck by your employer to fund programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Finally, income taxes are tacked onto your individual income, or the money that you make on your job. You need to pay income taxes if…

  1. You make over $400 in self-employment (you'll need to file a tax return)
  2. Your employer gives you a W-4 form
  3. You make more than $12,400 per year

During the Q&A portion of the event, the panelists shared their personal experiences and gave their advice in financial literacy, taxes, and personal budgeting. Here are some of the questions that were answered:

Q: What resources did you use when you were first introduced to financial literacy?

Katelyn shares Better Money Habits, a website from Bank of America that helped give her head start in financial literacy. Neha also recommends the Council for Economic Education, which hosts the National Economics Challenge that she participated in and also provides great resources for studying economics and finance. 

Q: Are there any budgeting apps that you would recommend?

Janvi recommends an app called Personal Capital that can help you to build a budget and track your spending. On the other hand, Katelyn and Neha prefer to use their bank’s website and a traditional spreadsheet to track their goals.

Thank you to the wonderful panelists for sharing their expertise and inspiring girls to start investing early! This workshop-style event helped to show girls what managing your finances is like in the real world. Remember, it is never too early to start your journey to financial freedom!

About the Author

Holly Zhang

Holly Zhang

Holly is a Business Analytics Writer at Girls For Business.

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