Whether positive or problematic, the relationship we have with money often stems from childhood, the things we witnessed, heard, and experienced during our formative years.
I’m learning this firsthand, watching my new business partners, Kindra Meyer and Patience Ramsey, in action. Both were raised in low-income households with little financial literacy and are now making it their mission to help themselves and all women become educated and empowered to make healthier money moves.
Together, we are launching Stacks House, a touring “pop-up with a purpose,” which supports women in their journey to becoming financially free while having loads of fun (obviously). The activation, which is sort of like the Museum of Ice Cream meets money for women, opens doors on April 17 in Los Angeles.
When the two ladies pitched me their idea for Stacks House last summer, I jumped at the chance to join forces with them. Never in my 15 years of educating people about money had I come across an idea so fresh, relevant, and engaging. Creating a live, experiential event where women can have fun and be inspired to make healthier money moves? Duh. Where do I sign?
For Kindra and Patience, the project is extremely personal.
“My early childhood was spent in a one-room log cabin in the woods of North Idaho without running water or electricity," says Kindra, who now lives in New York and has spent her career as a creative director for global brands like Google, Ford, and Facebook. "We then moved to a remote town of 300 people in Oregon, where we pretty much lived off the land. I can remember from a young age desiring a different life and focused on building a career that would take me far beyond anything I experienced as a child.”
In addition to running her own business today, Kindra is a homeowner and proud negotiator (she’s multiplied her income by a factor of six in the past eight years). But her confidence wasn’t always high. “I always felt uneducated and intimidated around money, so I pretended it wasn’t real. I was over-generous with others, while undervaluing myself until my early 30s.” With the help of a male industry friend, she discovered advertising’s massive salary gap, and that lit a fire within her. “I didn’t want equality at that point. I wanted retribution!”
I always felt uneducated and intimidated around money, so I pretended it wasn’t real. I was over-generous with others, while undervaluing myself until my early 30s.
Patience, a marketing and entertainment executive, also experienced a childhood where money was extremely limited. It was a life of “meager means,” to use her own words, which then led to a fierce determination to get her finances in order in adulthood.
“There was always some level of scarcity and always a feeling like there was never enough money,” she recalls. Growing up in rural Indiana as the oldest of six children, she remembers her parents declaring bankruptcy as one of her more frightening childhood memories. “There was so much uncertainty around that...like, are we going to lose our house? What's going to happen to us?”
Admittedly, that upbringing did impact Patience’s finances in her 20s when, after putting herself through school, she amassed close to $60,000 in credit card debt. Anxiety about her finances pushed her to the financial section of her local bookstore, where she discovered a title that spoke to her — The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke, by Suze Orman. Patience read the book, cover to cover, downloaded the spreadsheets, and got to work, eventually paying it all off.
The 2016 election compounded some of Patience's and Kindra's childhood fears, too, as they found themselves — along with many women in their generation — concerned for their protection and rights like never before.
The ticket to gaining more control over their lives and creating the change they wanted to see became clear: This was all about money — and women having more of it. “For us, money isn’t just power,” says Patience. “It’s freedom to make our own choices, to support and invest in the people we want leading us, to walk away from ugly situations, and live life on our own terms.”
They’re not alone: 78% of young women recently polled by Charles Schwab said that becoming completely financially independent is a goal. That compares to 71% of young men.
“It’s freedom to make our own choices, to support and invest in the people we want leading us, to walk away from ugly situations, and live life on our own terms.”
The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements also led to a financial awakening, as women discovered that so often their confidence gap or sense of vulnerability at work was partly caused by a lack of financial security. “I had a huge epiphany around money and made a promise to myself to radically change my relationship with money, and to bring up the women around me to do the same,” Kindra says.
Stacks House is the first of, hopefully, many offerings from a larger company we’re building called She Stacks. The pop-up is our launch and, in some ways, our financial hopes and dreams for women personified. It’s a safe place for both education and entertainment, where you can knock out your financial aggression in our Debt Boxing Gym. Around the corner, you can visit our Retirement Rodeo and learn about stock-market volatility (and why it’s worth staying on through the ups and downs), courtesy of our mechanical savings pig. Over in our Money Moves room, in partnership with our presenting sponsor, Zelle, you’ll be inspired to make the most of your hard-earned dollars. And want to learn about making more money? We’ve got you covered in our Side Hustle Salon, where we feature opportunities to profit from a passion using sites like Minted and TaskRabbit.
We’ve all kept our day jobs to give ourselves the runway to make this startup possible, but we’d be lying if we said we didn’t want She Stacks to turn into our forever job. “There is no greater luxury than working a job that you love,” says Kindra.
Farnoosh Torabi is a financial expert, bestselling author, and cofounder of Stacks House. The financial pop-up premieres in Los Angeles this April, and then tours the nation. Click here to learn how to get involved and attend.