Charis Hill featured on Business Insider

Image of Charis Hill, a person with a buzz cut wearing a red dress shirt, grey bowtie, red lipstick and glasses with their arms crossed across their chest. For inquiries, please email Charis.Anna.Hill[at]gmail.com.

Today Personal Finance by Women is happy to announce a Charis Hill feature on Business Insider!

Hill is a disabled, car-free, queer writer living in Sacramento. In their first Business Insider piece, they document how they bought a home on their SSDI income, including the strokes of luck it took to get them to a place of housing stability within a system that is rigged against them (and so many others.)

Check out Hill’s story here, being sure to share across your social networks in order to encourage the publication of more diverse stories in mainstream financial media!

You can tag Business Insider, and include the hashtag #personalfinancebywomen so we can be sure to amplify your posts!

Personal Finance by Women wants to thank Business Insider editors for working with us to locate and feature talented writers with diverse experiences with money. We also want to thank Hill for their willingness to share their important story and expose more people to the realities of living on SSDI on Medicaid/care. PF by Women also thanks Alice Wong and Heather Watkins, both talented writers themselves, and both of whom provide us with generous consultations and recommendations as we strive to work with the disabled community to further amplify their writers and story-tellers in the personal finance space.

We encourage you to read more of Hill’s work on BeingCharis.com.

Battling Addiction in Dayton, Ohio

Last week, I had the great honor of heading to Dayton, Ohio for the Kickin’ it with Luke event. For those of you who don’t remember, Kickin’ it with Luke is an event that raises money to compassionately fight addiction in the city hardest hit by the opioid epidemic. This Personal Finance by Women project was initiated by member Zina Kumok.

In addition to volunteering at the event, Zina donated four hours of her time as a financial coach to a raffle basket, and we filled it out with some fantastic books by our amazing authors:

How did it go?

The event was wonderful. People really turned out to honor Luke’s memory and support those in their community still battling addiction. Zina and I were upselling food left and right partially because of our sales skills and all the calories being burned on the field, I’m sure. But mostly because of the generosity of those who came out to the event.

In case you were wondering, the yellow team won the kickball tournament!

As far as fundraising goes, this was Kickin’ it with Luke’s biggest year yet. Thursday evening they were able to donate more than $12,000 across three different nonprofits in the Dayton area who are on the ground doing the work.

I’m so grateful to all the women who participated in supporting this event. I’m so grateful to all of you who supported on social media. And I’m so grateful to Dayton and specifically Kickin’ it with Luke for exposing me to such a united, resilient and determined community. It was truly an honor for us to be among you.

Have a nonprofit that needs support? We’d be happy to get together a Financial Literacy Gift Basket for your raffle or auction! Reach out here.

 
 
 
 
 
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We are so proud to support our amazing charities @brigids_path, @foafamiliesofaddicts, and @herstory_inc!

A post shared by Kickin’ It With Luke (@kickinitwithluke) on


Brynne Conroy is a freelance writer, author and award-winning blogger in the personal finance space. Her work has a marked focus on women’s issues and intersectional oppression as it relates to the personal economies of Americans.

She loves baseball, linguistics and cultural studies. If you can’t find her behind a keyboard or calculator, she’s probably busy momming.

Zina Kumok Kicks it with Luke

For those of you who have been following along with the Kickin’ it with Luke series, welcome back! For those of you who haven’t, Personal Finance by Women is putting together a financial literacy gift basket to benefit the fight against opioid addiction in Dayton, Ohio — what was once the epicenter of the opioid epidemic before they instituted a compassionate system that treated addiction as a disease.

So far we’ve featured books by Lauren Bowling, Bola Sokunbi, Kristin Wong and Jackie Cummings Koski. Thank you to each one of you for contributing!

If you want to pitch in, too, here’s where you can do so.

Today I’m headed to Dayton for the event. While I’m there, I’m going to see the fantastic Zina Kumok. Zina is the driving force behind our contribution to Kickin’ it with Luke. She’s also a talented personal finance freelance writer and speaker.

I want to welcome her to contribute her thoughts and feelings on the opioid epidemic today, as someone who has seen it impact her own community.

Living in the Midwest, the opioid epidemic is a reality that goes past the daily headlines. It’s something that affects people on a day-to-day basis. But it can feel hard to see what an individual can do to stem the problem.

Being part of Kickin’ it with Luke is one way that you can support an organization doing its part. Everything I’ve heard about Brigid’s Paththe primary organization which benefits from Kickin’ it with Luke –is that they’re an organization that treats its patients and clients with respect. They understand their struggles and help them without judgment.

What’s especially great about Kickin’ it with Luke is that the fundraiser honors Luke and his memory with an activity he loved: kickball. Luke loved to play kickball with his friends and this tournament celebrates him and brings his loved ones together.

I’m so excited to see what the third year of this tournament brings and how many more people are helped by this group.

Final Book Contribution

The final book contribution to the financial literacy basket is The Feminist Financial Handbook by yours truly.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Li Cain

While The Feminist Financial Handbook addresses personal finance topics such as budgeting systems, investment options, and emergency funds, its unique value is describing the backstories of women’s financial lives. Chapter topics include: single parenting, gender income gaps, salary negotiations, financial account ownership, PTSD and depression, and domestic and financial abuse.

Skillfully combining political and historical insights, research findings, and real-life stories of women managing their finances, Conroy offers readers hope, support, and specific action steps at the end of each chapter. Women who desire financial security for themselves and others and financial educators, counselors, coaches, and planners who assist them will benefit greatly from the unique perspectives contained within this book.

Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D., CFP®
@moneytalk1 and co-author of Money Talk: A Financial Guide for Women

Learn more here!


Thank you so much to Zina! Learn more about Kickin’ It With Luke and how we’re using financial literacy to fight addiction in Dayton, Ohio.

If you’re interested in a financial literacy basket from Personal Finance by Women for your nonprofit’s event, or supporting future efforts, please do get in touch!


Brynne Conroy is a freelance writer, author and award-winning blogger in the personal finance space. Her work has a marked focus on women’s issues and intersectional oppression as it relates to the personal economies of Americans.

She loves baseball, linguistics and cultural studies. If you can’t find her behind a keyboard or calculator, she’s probably busy momming.

Jackie Cummings Koski Kicks it with Luke

Welcome to Day 4 of our series celebrating the Kickin’ It with Luke event! The fourth author contributing her book to the financial literacy gift basket — which will be raffled off this Saturday — is Jackie Cummings Koski.

Jackie is Dayton native herself, and contributing her award-winning book to the financial literacy book basket will directly serve her local community by fighting addiction.

Jackie’s book is amazing for so many reasons, not the least of which is that it addresses the investing gap. I’m honored to say that like Kristin, this is the second financial literacy book basket Jackie has participated in. Last time we helped raise money for those battling cancer to buy wigs.

Without further ado, here are the deets on Jackie’s fantastic tome:

Money Letters 2 my Daughter is a series of letters from a mother to her 17-year-old daughter about all things dealing with money and personal finances. Its not about teaching you how to make more money,but how to better manage the money you have. It will inspire you to trade in your stress and anxiety about money, for knowledge and power. Every letter starts with a lesson and ends with love. In between is easy-to-understand advice and guidance that will give you the foundation you need to make the most of your hard-earned money.

This book addresses many of the National Standards in Personal Finance Education for K-12, created and maintained by the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy. This publication has been approved by Jump$tart to be listed as a resource in the Jump$tart Clearinghouse database.

Learn more here!


Thank you so much to Jackie! Learn more about Kickin’ It With Luke and how we’re using financial literacy to fight addiction in Dayton, Ohio.

If you’re interested in a financial literacy basked from Personal Finance by Women for your nonprofit’s event, or supporting future efforts, please do get in touch!

Kristin Wong Kicks it with Luke

Welcome to Day 3 of our series celebrating the Kickin’ It with Luke event! The third author contributing her book to the financial literacy gift basket — which will be raffled off this Saturday — is Kristin Wong.

On top of being an amazing freelance writer, author and award-winning journalist, Kristin has been a powerhouse in getting Personal Finance by Women off the ground. You might recognize her efforts through her picks on last week’s Apex Money, and her behind-the-scenes support has been instrumental.

Kristin’s book — Get Money — is a phenomenal read for anyone who’s trying to make their money fun.

Managing your money is like going to the dentist or standing in line at the DMV. Nobody wants to do it, but at some point, it’s inevitable: you need to clean your teeth, renew your license, and manage your personal finances like a grown-up. Whether you’re struggling to pay off student loan debt, ready to stop living paycheck to paycheck, or have finally accepted that your Beanie Baby collection will never pay off, tackling your finances may seem immensely intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, by approaching it as a game–or something that requires you to set clear goals, as well as face challenges you must “beat”–personal finance can not only be easy to understand, but it can also be fun!

In Get Money, personal finance expert Kristin Wong shows you the exact steps to getting more money in your pocket without letting it rule your life. Through a series of challenges designed to boost your personal finance I.Q., interviews with other leading financial experts, and exercises tailored to help you achieve even your biggest goals, you’ll learn valuable skills such as:

  • Building a budget that (gasp) actually works
  • Super-charging a debt payoff plan
  • How to strategically hack your credit score
  • Negotiating like a shark (or at least a piranha)
  • Side-hustling to speed up your money goals
  • Starting a lazy investment portfolio…and many more!

Simply put, with this gamified guide to personal finance, you’ll no longer stress about understanding how your finances work–you’ll finally “get” money.

Learn more here!


Thank you so much to Kristin! Learn more about Kickin’ It With Luke and how we’re using financial literacy to fight addiction in Dayton, Ohio.

If you’re interested in a financial literacy basked from Personal Finance by Women for your nonprofit’s event, or supporting future efforts, please do get in touch!

Clever Girl Finance Kicks It with Luke

Welcome to Day 2 of our series celebrating the Kickin’ It with Luke event! The second author contributing her book to the financial literacy gift basket — which will be raffled off this Saturday — is Bola Sokunbi.

Bola is one of our founding members, is the creator of the Clever Girl Finance blog where she empowers women as they strive for financial independence and is also a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI).

Her book — which carries the same name as her blog — gives women the information they need to make savvy money decisions.

“You’re a smart woman. So why do you find financial matters just a little intimidating? Don’t worry—we’ve all been there! We work hard for our money. We’re supporting families or sharing the financial obligations of our households. However, we’re usually paid less than men and we typically live longer, making our money management needs unique. And that’s why it’s time for YOU to master the essentials of money: managing it, saving it, investing it, and building a secure financial future for yourself.


Self-made money expert Bola Sokunbi developed Clever Girl Finance to meet those objectives. In this book, she helps you identify your personal needs, challenges, and relationship with debt. She demystifies investing. She coaches you on salary negotiations. And at every step, she shares the experiences of women just like you. It’s not a magic bullet. It’s a process Bola used to establish her own financial security, and it can work for you too! ”

Learn more here!

Thank you so much to Bola! Learn more about Kickin’ It With Luke and how we’re using financial literacy to fight addiction in Dayton, Ohio.

If you’re interested in a financial literacy basked from Personal Finance by Women for your nonprofit’s event, or supporting future efforts, please do get in touch!

PF by Women Kicks it with Luke

A lot of times in our culture, we punish addiction rather than recognizing it for what it is: An illness. Punishing an illness does not heal it, but rather inflicts shame, which can ironically compound behaviors that reinforce said illness.

We need not look far to see that addiction isn’t just an illness that affects a few, but rather it’s one that’s causing a public health epidemic across the US.

Yes, you probably have heard of Dayton outside of its recent tragedies: Home of the Wright brothers and the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Among other things.

Today, we’re going to zoom in on Dayton, Ohio. Two short years ago, it was the worst-hit city as far as opioid-related fatalities go. But just one year later, the community managed to rally and turn things around, reducing the fatality count by about two-thirds.

How did they do it?

They treated addiction as an illness.

They treated the ill with compassion. Without judgement.

They instituted syringe exchange programs to ensure those in active addiction avoided as much illness and infection as possible.

They chose a path of compassion, looking at the entire human being rather than just the illness. While there are still significant problems to address in the region, the numbers show that it’s working.

Kickin’ It With Luke

The area’s authorities and service providers aren’t the only ones to step up to battle this disease. Every year, the Dayton community rallies around an annual kickball tournament: Kickin’ It With Luke.

The event is held in Luke’s memory after his passing a few years ago, and is equal parts a celebration of his life and love, and an effort to raise funds to help others fighting addiction.

The primary nonprofit that benefits from the event is Brigid’s Path — a treatment facility for babies who are born drug-dependent. In addition to helping the newborns physically, Brigid’s Path provides holistic family services in a non-judgemental environment. This provides both newborn and family with opportunities for early bonding and access to community resources.

We’ll be on the ground kickin’ it with Luke this Saturday! If you’re local, you can check out more details for the event. If you’re not, you can support here.

Financial Literacy Basket

Some of our amazing member authors have been kind enough to contribute a copy of their books for a financial literacy gift basket. This basket will be raffled off on Saturday at the event, but I wanted to start introducing you to our authors now!

First up is Lauren Bowling, one of our wonderful Founding Members, owner and creator of Financial Best Life, and author of The Millennial Homeowner.

Here’s what the book dives into:

In her debut book The Millennial Homeowner, personal finance blogger Lauren Bowling provides a wealth of home buying tips and money management lessons to help millennials redefine their relationship with money. Written in Lauren’s warm, funny, and easy-to-understand voice, this book helps millennial homebuyers financially prepare for the biggest purchase of their lifetime.

By breaking down complex financial concepts into clear, manageable tools, Lauren has written the ultimate resource to help millennials navigate the overwhelming process of purchasing and maintaining their first home.

Learn more here!

One more bit of news!

Let’s send a huge congratulations to Liz Frazier, who just recently released her new book: Beyond Piggy Bank and Lemonade Stands!

Launch went so well that she actually sold out of books on Day One! Liz has been quick to meet demand, so if you have young children and have been wondering how the heck to teach them about this money stuff, be sure to get your hands on a copy while they last!


Brynne Conroy is a freelance writer, author and award-winning blogger in the personal finance space. Her work has a marked focus on women’s issues and intersectional oppression as it relates to the personal economies of Americans.

She loves baseball, linguistics and cultural studies. If you can’t find her behind a keyboard or calculator, she’s probably busy momming.

Feature on Apex Money

Dark-haired woman in a striped pink and white shirt smiles at the camera.

Today as one of our first initiatives, Personal Finance by Women is picking the top six personal finance reads around the web over at Apex Money.

Apex Money, run by allies Jim Wang and JD Roth, features the best PF content on a daily basis–weeding through all the content that’s out there today to find you primo reads. Thank you to Jim and JD for hosting us today!

Who is the guest curator repping Personal Finance by Women? That would be none other than our very own Kristin Wong! Kristin is a personal finance freelance writer, author, and award-winning journalist. We couldn’t be more honored to have her represent us and are so into her picks!

Check them out to learn about money and the intersection of race, sexual assault, workplace discrimination, the touchy-feely side of money and so much more.

Around the Corner

I’m excited to announce that Personal Finance by Women has another project coming around the corner! Can’t wait to let everyone in on the news early next week! Be sure to subscribe to the newsletter if you’d like a notice in your inbox as soon as the news breaks.

We’ve got more than these two current initiatives going on. While we work behind the scenes to bring you what’s next, feel free to reach out if you want to work with or support the network via a collaboration.

What can I do to help?

Many people have come to me asking what they could do to help as individual publishers or influencers, and at the current moment, it’s just that:

Spreading the word.

On social. On your blog. In your mastermind group. The more we can share the more we can do, and together with you, we’re planning on doing some pretty amazing things.

Thank you once again to Kristin, Jim and JD for their work on Apex Money today!


Brynne Conroy is a freelance writer, author and award-winning blogger, in the personal finance space. Her work has a marked focus on women’s issues and intersectional oppression as it relates to the personal economies of Americans.

She loves baseball, linguistics and cultural studies. If you can’t find her behind a keyboard or calculator, she’s probably busy momming.

5 Ways to Eliminate the Effects of the Gender Wage Gap in Your Life

When it comes to women and money, data suggests that women are farther behind on their money journey than their male counterparts when it comes to aspects like income, net worth and even retirement readiness. One of the root causes of this disparity is the gender wage gap.

According to Payscale, a career advice site, women still earn only 79 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make. They also report that there is an opportunity gap — meaning there are also structural barriers keeping women from advancing in the workplace.

Though there will need to be a major systemic overhaul to level the playing field for women in the workplace in regards to compensation, there’s a way that women can take the matter into their own hands. Here are some ways to minimize or even eliminate the effects of the gender wage gap in your life.

Ask for a raise

Don’t forgo money that could be due to you. Ask for a raise — especially if you deserve it! Asking for a raise is probably the lowest hanging fruit to reach for when it comes to increasing your income.

A survey by Payscale revealed that only 43% of survey respondents asked for a raise. That means that potentially 57% of employees are leaving money on the table. Don’t let that be you!

When the extra money comes in, make sure you don’t increase your lifestyle. Plan to save and invest that money so that your money can work on your behalf to reduce the effects of the gender wage gap.

Start a Side Hustle

If you can’t squeeze any more income out of your current employer, it might be time to take matters into your own hands. Starting a side hustle could mean extra money that can go towards paying down debt, saving or investing — things that can all ultimately reduce or totally eliminate the effect of the gender wage gap in almost any woman’s life!

Begin investing ASAP

With investing, time equals money, so the earlier you start, the better. Instead of putting your fate totally into the hands of your employer or annual income, let your saved money do the heavy lifting.

The beauty of compound interest is that it works while you are eating, sleeping, working or even having fun. Your money can multiply over time but the key is that you have to invest it in assets that appreciate. Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, and even businesses all qualify as investments that can grow over time and bring in passive income.

Reduce your expenses

A penny saved is a penny earned, right? Look at your discretionary spending and find things you can either reduce or eliminate.

You might explore house hacking, couponing or even working out at home instead of going to the gym. There are many creative ways to save money and reduce your expenses. The more you can cut back on your spending, the more you can save or invest.

Network and help other women

People say that women can be catty and competitive in the workplace. Instead of falling into that stereotype, make an attempt to network with your peers and colleagues. Some of the best opportunities come from people you know — new jobs, contract work, and even business relationships can blossom from networking.

Opportunities can mean more money which can mean more savings and investing. This could lead to the total elimination of the effects of the gender wage in your life. So network away!

Bottom line

Sure, some systemic, structural changes may be in the works and they could very well be the start of a real solution to the gender wage gap. However, while you’re waiting for that to come down the pipeline, do what you can so that you’ve got a head start on your personal journey to earning, saving and investing more. At the end of the day, you might have to take matters into your own hands when it comes to eliminating the effects of the gender wage gap in your life.


Aja McClanahan is a writer that covers personal finance and entrepreneurship. She blogs regularly at www.principlesofincrease.com and works as a freelance writer. Aja has written for numerous web outlets including CreditKarma, CreditCards.com, LendingTree, Discover Bank and more.

Let’s Talk About the Literal Seat at the Table

The last two years I found myself in an interesting position.

I had a seat at the table.

And for most of those two years, I was the only woman with a seat at the table.

I was initially fairly baffled at how I wound up in this position. I was hired as the Performance Director for a recently bought, previously bankrupt company in entertainment and, as I saw it, my job was mostly – make sure the show happens.

Make sure the artists show up and have what they need. Make sure the technicians show up and have what they need. Make sure any changes and last minute decisions during the show are made and executed as needed. Make schedules. Fill out forms. Stick to budgets. Sometimes develop budgets.

Somehow, along the way, the Chairman of the company and I found we got on quite well. And when he started talking with me about the actual business of the company, I was interested and engaged, and frankly shocked when he listened to my occasional opinions on the state of things.

After a few months, I was suddenly invited to all of the big decision making meetings. It wasn’t crazy as I was arguably one of, if not the, highest positions in our Artistic department (until we hired a Creative Director later in the year,) but I sat in on some absolutely insane meetings.

And when we had to hire a new CEO, I was one of the people whose opinion was listened to.

I vividly remember sitting around that table with a bunch of men in their forties, fifties and sixties thinking, “What the actual eff am I doing in this room?”

Here’s the nice thing about a stage management background though – if you’re successful in this field, you know a little about how to fake it until you make it. How to always remain calm even if you currently feel like that cartoon with the funny dog sitting in the room on fire saying, “This is fine.”


I’ve read a lot about how men approach job searches and their business relationships. I pretty much just decided to pretend to be some entitled dude and get on with things.

While I was at the table, I watched these men. And I read the brilliant and sometimes irritating book Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office and I was amazed over the dumb things we do that shoot ourselves in the foot in the workplace. And I was pissed off that these are actions that shoot us in the foot in the workplace, because they shouldn’t be. But they are and I watched them in action.

Here are the biggest things I learned:

No one will just give you a seat at the table. And you can’t really even ask for a seat at the table. You take it. And you don’t apologize.

Now, don’t be some entry level temp trying to sit in on upper management meetings, but here’s a very literal interpretation:

When I enter a meeting, a large part of me wants to make sure everyone has a seat. Are there enough chairs? Do we need anything?

As the Performance Director, that wasn’t my job. There were office assistants who worked at our company. Despite this, we were regularly short chairs at meetings. Now, knowing this, I could perch on a desk corner or stand against the wall.

Or I could walk in there like a department head and sit my butt in a chair – just like every single man in the company does, and let me tell you, the majority of them are not thinking about chairs for anyone else at that moment.

If you walked into a crowded meeting at our company with a slightly larger group – do you want to know who 90% of the people perched on desks and around the walls were? It was the women.

You start each meeting from a position of less authority by positioning yourself in one of those spots and you have to exert more effort to get attention and be heard  during a meeting from there.

So take the actual, literal seat next time. Sit right next to your boss who is one step higher than you. Be prepared, speak up, and show the younger women in the room how it’s done.


Mel blogs at brokeGIRLrich where she chronicles her journey to avoid becoming a starving artist. She works as a touring stage manager most of the year and is studying accounting in her free time. Mel has very strong opinions about side hustles, candles, and roadside attractions.