Money Edges and Impact

By Tuti B. Scott

January 5, 2022

At a recent Women&Money virtual gathering we explored some powerful questions including “what is your current ‘edge’ with money?” An edge, as we discussed it, is a friction point in your life. An edge can be physical, emotional, financial, and/or spiritual and speaks to ‘what is your opportunity for growth and transformation?’ I shared that my edge is taking charge of my “retirement” planning or understanding better what funds will be available for my next phase of activism, fun, and travel.

I called a financial advisor at the company where my pension and life insurance are held. She prepared materials for me that projected how long my current assets could provide me the income I desired. After sitting with this information for a few weeks, I realized I disagreed with the actuary mortality charts that modeled me living to the ripe old age of 95.

I shared with the advisor that my genetic makeup and personal medical history of seven surgeries in the last 10 years (four on my heart) didn’t bode well for me living to be 95. Not to mention neither parent lived to 70 and only 2 of 4 grandparents reached 80. The truth is that I would make a super precocious, sassy as hell, tiny, wise 95 year old…but I am also a realist, so planning in this way did not make rational sense. She agreed to share a new projection with me to age 85.

After reviewing this data and creating a simpler budget for my future, I have decided to give myself permission to draw on my retirement at age 59 ½ (this March) if I need. I have been working for more than 45 years and am privileged to explore a different pace. For 15 years working at the Women’s Sports Foundation I maxed out on my employee contributions and bought life insurance at a time when I was in outstanding health. An unexpected inheritance of stocks and cash allowed me to purchase real estate in my 40’s. Today, the combination of my real estate assets, investments, and pending social security payments will allow me to live as I choose moving forward.

My older sister is the primary role model for my decision as she started taking her social security at age 62. All the ‘experts’ say to wait until you are 70 so you get more per month. But my sister and I are doing it our way and it feels right for us and in line with our values and longings.

As a quintessential overachiever (out of necessity from growing up working class poor and my blessed red-headed passionate personality type), this is a significant shift for me mentally and emotionally. The world has been so tumultuous for the last few years and in my life there has been a lot of disruption. With disruption come opportunities for reflection and learning and I want to deepen my practice there. I am doubling down on what brings me joy — coaching leaders, beloved community and spending time in nature.

For my consulting and advising work, I will continue working with fierce organizations and leaders. In the near future, I would like to offer my wisdom advising and mobilizing a large family foundation’s assets for good — both their investments and their philanthropy. I want to work with a bold family and Board that wants to use their holistic capital to advance gender, racial, and climate justice. I know there are people that want to build out a social justice grant portfolio like MacKenzie Scott or an endowment invested for impact like East Bay Community Foundation, Nathan Cummings, or Rockefeller Family Brothers.

Meanwhile, I am striving to live my best life, offering resources like Moving Money for Impact: A Guide to Gender Lens Investing and workshops to promote the movement for values-aligned social justice investments. I will work with friend and colleague Gwendolyn Van Sant to lead an Invest for Better circle, gathering fierce women who want to mobilize their assets for positive impact. I will continue to promote and convene the leaders in the movement who are educating and driving action. I will also use this time to look deeper via AsYouSow.org to see where exactly the mutual funds in my pension are invested while being grateful for the investments I’ve made independently.

People often ask what easy steps they can take with their money to start their journey of impact investing with a gender lens. If I was an accredited investor with $100,000, I would put it in Nia Impact Capital. I am not yet in a position for this investment myself, but I wholly believe in what Kristin Hull does and wish every investment platform beyond Fidelity and Charles Schwab would have Nia available for their clients. I also highly recommend prioritizing an investment in Adasina’s JSTC ETF fund. For this fund, there is a low barrier to entry and you can start with as little or as much as you want. I did a $2000 purchase right out of my E-Trade account.

My favorite investment that I love to promote is SheEO and founder Vicki Saunders’ belief that we have to disrupt the current financial models. Being an activator in SheEO, which is a $1,000 US dollar a year commitment, starts women on a path to get into angel investing. As a SheEO activator, you get to be part of a wonderful community and look at the ventures to learn what their opportunities are and see the stories and impact of these incredible founders and businesses.

Years ago I made the commitment to have $250 a month automatically withdrawn from my checking account to go to PAX Elevate. In 1993, this public equity fund pioneered the idea of counting heads with a focus on gender diversity, specifically looking at women in management, in the boardroom.

I hope that by sharing my personal edges around money and activism around investing according to my values for maximum social and financial returns, it will allow you and others to talk freely and proudly about your money stories and edges. We all can continue to explore where we can invest according to our values and where we can grow in this area. Guys talk about it all the time. As women, we need to push ourselves to liberate our connection to money and the freedom to use it wisely.

Coach Tuti says ‘Let’s get in the game, people. Move your money for impact. There is no time like the present. Make this a gift to yourself and our shared humanity.

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