It’s Friday, so time for Let’s meet Financial Feminists. This week I have the pleasure of introducing Alicia McElhaney and her website She Spends.
What I love about She Spends is the mission – it’s much more than a personal blog, it’s real quality journalism to get series about advocating for true equality.
Handing over to Alicia – About You & She Spends
Please introduce yourself and your blog
I am Alicia McElhaney, a 24-year-old reporter living in Brooklyn. I cover asset management at my day job, and I used to cover the stock market. My website is called She Spends. The main goal of the site is to close the wage, investing and board seat gaps between men and women. We aim to do this by providing information on both the broader financial systems we live in and on personal finance. In other words, how to cope with living in a system that isn’t fair to everyone (while encouraging our readers to advocate for financial fairness!).
What sort of finance blog do you write?
The She Spends website is a mix of the personal and systemic when it comes to money. We feature a financial news roundup, personal finance tips, a woman or non-binary person doing something amazing in their career, and a money diary in each newsletter, which we send out every Friday. We also feature travel money diaries, “wear to work” diaries, and job information on our blog, as well. So I suppose we have that “lifestyle & finance” angle on lockdown!
How would you describe your current stage of life?
I am technically in the “asset accumulation” phase if you go by the CFP standards. But seriously, I’m 24 and living in New York and finally have some cash to save and invest. I’m not seeking FIRE, but I am working to save about 10 percent of my paycheck for retirement, and then add to my general savings account and investment accounts on top of that. I am currently going back to school to become a certified financial planner.
I live with my boyfriend, who I’ve been with for seven years. We don’t plan to get married soon, and our finances are separate. Eventually, we’ll do a courthouse wedding and have a small party. Down the road, I hope to adopt children with him. It’s unclear whether we’ll stay in New York or move to another city.
What are your personal values?
I value openness, transparency and equality. I am an ardent feminist. When it comes to money, I value spending on experiences and contributing to charity. Even though my paychecks are not yet huge, I think it’s important to put my money where my mouth is when it comes to my opinions, and I try to donate $10 or $20 every month to a cause I believe in. If my finances aren’t in a place where I can donate, I try to volunteer my time instead. I think it’s important to be an active and informed citizen.
What are your dreams and plans for the future?
I think eventually, I want to work for myself. My father has had small businesses here and there, and I think that I have his entrepreneurial spirit. I like tackling big projects that I believe in, and I think working for yourself is a great way to make that happen.
Like I said earlier, my boyfriend and I will eventually get married, but I don’t plan to have a big wedding or anything. He and I want to travel a lot and have talked about living in a country outside of the United States. I think we’re both just open to new experiences, and we want to keep our options on the table for now.
We likely will have children, and if we’re financially stable enough, I want to adopt.
Feminism & Society
What is your brand of feminism?
I suppose I fall into the fourth wave of feminism given my age, but I’m not sure that distinction means a lot at this point. That said, I feel inspired by the Riot grrrl movement, which values individual expression. I think it’s important, and that movement did a lot for us that we don’t always acknowledge.
Do you identify as a specific type of feminist?
Not really! I’ve been a feminist all my life. I was raised by a feminist who was raised by a feminist, so gender equality feels like it’s been ingrained in my family. I went to an incredibly conservative high school in western Pennsylvania, and I have strong memories of arguing with a boy in my class in high school who claimed that the wage gap was no longer a problem for women.
Do you have feminist in your twitter bio?
Surprisingly, I don’t. I guess it’s ingrained enough that I think people should just assume I’m a feminist from the jump.
Is the patriarchy real?
Unfortunately, yes. It’s alive and well.
Recommend us some good feminist books
Bell Hooks is a must-read author. My life was seriously changed by reading her work. I also love Gloria Steinem’s essays. Nora Ephron is a fun one, because her essays are easy to tackle. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman was influential in my earlier years. I pretty much only read authors who are women at this point.
The importance of intersectionality – discuss
I believe in intersectional feminism! That is, with a strong focus on women of color, disabled women, impoverished women, queer women and non-binary folks.
How do you feel about privilege
Again, I believe it’s real and a systemic problem. I feel lucky that I’m a white middle-class woman raised by upper-middle-class parents. It’s given me so many advantages.
How is your idol?
Big question! Maggie Lena Walker, Sallie Krawcheck, Rebecca Traister, bell hooks, Aminatou Sow, Shirley Jackson, Ayelet Waldman, Kathleen Hanna, and Linda Bacon have all had a profound impact on the way I think about the world.
What is the role of men in feminism?
They are the ones with power! They need to be disrupting this patriarchal system!
Do you consider yourself an activist?
How do you get your news?
I follow a lot of journalists on Twitter. My main reads are Bloomberg, WSJ, New York Times, Washington Post and the website I work for, Institutional Investor. I also read Behavioral Scientist and the Harvard Business Review.
What are your thoughts on the mainstream media?
As a bit of an “insider” in this world, my view tends to be that a lot of people misunderstand how media works. I think media literacy should be taught in schools, because it would help people to better analyze what they read, instead of taking it at face value.
Please share your top 10 blogs you follow with us.
I tend to read more lifestyle blogs than money blogs. So this list is a mix of both! The Luxe Strategist, Blue Collar Red Lipstick, Budget Bytes, Bitches Get Riches, Fugitive Psychiatrist, A Thinking Animal, Dumpster Doggy, Sophie With A Blog, Alaskan Weredork, and Invincible Summer. (and of course, your blog! ?)
What feminist resources do you use?
The Big Whisper newsletter, Sister’s 12 Feminist Economic Principals, Feministing for all things topical, Ellevest for index investing, Maven for healthcare on the fly, Unbound Babes for sex education, and Planned Parenthood’s Spot On app to track my period. Locally in New York, I live for New Women Space.
Is talking about money feminist?
Yes. It’s a huge way for us to work towards parity. Sharing salaries, advice and experiences is a huge part of that.
Some media spin that’s upset you lately – please share your rant
I don’t even know where to begin with my social media rage. I had to tune out of a lot of personal finance twitter because the pull-yourself-up-by-your-
And some media that has galvanised you
To be frank, I’ve not been looking to be galvanized by social media lately. In the United States, we – as a nation – are reliving a lot of trauma with the Kavanaugh nomination, so I’ve been seeking comfort from media, rather than galvanization. I’ve been reading a lot of poetry about women’s anger lately. Jeanann Verlee’s work has been speaking to me a lot.
I also have followed quite a few thrift store Instagrammers, because I’ve found comfort in digging through local Goodwill stores for treasure. It’s a cheap way to manufacture joy. Passing Whimsies, M Gets Dressed and Life Pre-Loved are some of my favorite new follows.
What is one awesome thing in your life now
I’ve been hitting the gym and cooking healthy meals quite a bit lately! It feels good to take care of myself.
We else should I interview for this series?
Any of the bloggers I mentioned above!
How can people connect with you?
Ms Zi You Back here
Thanks to Alicia for taking the time to share her #financialfeminist profile. I adored reading it, and am impressed by how much she has already done including setting up She Spends.
If you identify as a feminist – female or male – and would like to be featured on Let’s meet Financial Feminists – please get in contact.