Like a lot of students in their mid-20s, Miriam Kamil didn’t pay much attention to money in school. But then her father died, and she inherited his life’s savings and a mountain of responsibility. At the time, she was studying for her doctorate at Harvard University.
“I was in a situation where I had to figure out what to do with the inheritance,” said Kamil. “Do I just put it all in a savings account and forget about it?”
She was overseas studying in Rome when the decisions began to mount. To serve his legacy, she knew she’d have to challenge herself to master money.
Kamil’s story reflects how students need to develop their financial knowledge so that they can comfortably manage money when their parents are no longer able to help. For Kamil, that meant learning how to invest. Here’s how she managed.
Reaching out to a financial adviser
Though Kamil had an extensive academic career, she needed to learn more about money.
She turned to Magdalena Johndrow, a financial adviser at female-led Johndrow Wealth Management. The adviser works with her mother-in-law, Lori Johndrow, to help clients manage their money.
Magdalena Johndrow attests that the firm has unique perks in a male-dominated industry.
“First and foremost, while it’s a cliche, our clients constantly tell us that we are fantastic listeners,” she said. “Every meeting we ask, ‘What are your wants, hopes, [and] fears?’ Then, afterward, our approach is one of education.”
Kamil admits that when she first met with Johndrow, she had a lot to learn.
“I was such a beginner, it was embarrassing,” Kamil said. “I really came in with the basic questions, and Maggie made sure I didn’t feel stupid and was really encouraging.”
The two started with some investing basics, such as what it meant to buy into a company and hold stocks.
Learning how to educate yourself
If Kamil’s story sounds familiar to you, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.
Your financial education has to start somewhere. Often, it’s impossible to know the answers to your money questions until you ask. Beginning your own financial education journey can follow the same steps as Kamil’s.
1. Find a financial adviser with which you’re comfortable
“I’m in communication with [Johndrow] a lot,” said Kamil. The two first met over Skype while Kamil was in Rome.
Because of the strong rapport, the two can talk openly about Kamil’s investment portfolio. Likewise, Kamil can ask questions she might be embarrassed to bring up elsewhere. This openness is key to developing a financial plan that works for you.
“That financial plan will give you markers,” said Johndrow. “There’ll be certain milestones you’ll have to hit. If you want to buy a home, that’ll be a milestone. We can break that down even further for what that client needs.”
Shop around for a financial adviser you feel comfortable speaking to about money. It isn’t rare for Johndrow to spend her first 90-minute meeting with a client asking questions about their life plans, financial goals, and level of financial knowledge.
2. Consider your investment values
For Kamil, an important step in her financial journey was learning how aggressive she wanted to be with her investments and what kind of legacy she wanted to leave with the money. Those two points represent her investment values.
“We talked about what causes are important,” said Kamil. “We invested my money in an account that seeks out women-led companies, and I’ve invested in many women-led companies through that. Because I told her that was important to me.”
On this, Johndrow said: “A lot of our millennial women want to invest in companies that have a lot of women on the board, or in ways that contribute to the betterment of society like the water supply.”
As you consider your investment values, Johndrow recommends asking these questions:
How much risk are you prepared to take on?
How much risk do you need in your portfolio to build the savings you want?
What do you want your lifestyle to look like when you retire?
What’s your current lifestyle, and will you be able to maintain that in retirement?
What other financial milestones do you want to hit throughout your life?
“You’re going to get your returns for the appropriate amount of risk,” said Johndrow. “Some people might think they’re riskier than they really are and we work through that.”
3. Put financial advice into action
Something Kamil liked about using a financial adviser is that the nuts and bolts of getting transactions done are up to them.
“It was really the perfect fit for someone who doesn’t know a lot about money to handle their own finances,” Kamil said.
Even if you don’t have an adviser to do the work for you, that doesn’t mean you can’t take action steps on your own.
For example, you can use online tools and services to manage your money. The Betterment app can make investing easy. Mint, meanwhile, offers a bird’s-eye view of your finances, allowing you to budget more efficiently.
From beginner to master: A journey complete
A year after connecting with a financial adviser, Kamil said she’s an active participant in her finances.
“Before all of this happened, I was a really passive person when it came to money,” she said. “I let my parents deal with it. I’m a Ph.D. student, so I didn’t have a retirement account. I was putting all of that off for as long as I could. Now I’ve become a much more active player in my own life in terms of finances.”
Now, Kamil’s proud of how she’s stewarded some of the most difficult money decisions in her life. She thinks her father would also be proud of her for that.
“He was really money savvy,” Kamil said. “I think he’d be pleased with the way I’ve handled it and the way I’ve educated myself.”
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
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2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
Savings example: average savings calculated based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were disclosed. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
Application detail: 5 minutes indicates typical time it takes to complete application with applicant information readily available. It does not include time taken to provide underwriting decision or funding of the loan.
Instant rates mean a delivery of personalized rates for those individuals who provide sufficient information to return a rate. For instant rates a soft credit pull will be conducted, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
Total savings calculated by aggregating individual average savings across total borrower population from 9/2013 to 12/2017. Individual average savings calculation based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were provided. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit SoFi|
|2.47% – 5.87%1||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Earnest|
|2.47% – 8.03%4||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Lendkey|
|2.95% – 6.37%2||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Laurel Road|
|2.48% – 6.25%5||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit CommonBond|
|2.72% – 8.32%6||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Citizens|