Independence and Financial Freedom: My Artistic and Financial Journey

I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom lately and how independence plays a critical role in our human experiences. At last week’s art class, we were doing master transcriptions and had to choose a painting from a selection of masters. I chose Portrait of Bianca degli Utili Maselli by Lavinia Fontana (1552–1614, Bologna, Italy). This was the first time I used oil paints and I learned you just have to get in there and play about with them. After learning about the artist, I felt inspired and was able to ditch any lack of confidence and just go for it.

Lavinia Fontana is considered the first professional woman artist. She worked within the same sphere as her male counterparts, outside a court or convent. She earned a living through her art, broke barriers, and earned a list of superlatives and appellations.

She also had a supportive husband, Gian Paolo Zappi. Fontana married without a dowry on the assumption that she would earn her income through painting. Her marriage contract required that she and her husband remain in her father’s household, and that Fontana would continue to contribute to the family’s workshop. Though a painter himself, Zappi recognised his wife’s talent and acted as her agent and assistant, prioritising her career as an artist. This was in the late 1500s!

The Financial Literacy Gap

“Female financial literacy is the modern solution to the growing gap in emerging and developed economies.”

Ms. Afua Amoah-Djimi, Managing Director, Orbit54 Venture Capital

I am on a journey myself around financial planning and educating myself about how to invest any idle cash (the power of inflation), how rising inflation can affect my savings, and how just getting started is the best thing you can do. I am by no means an expert, but if you are interested, join me on this journey. I am waist deep in conversations and live webinars with the likes of FemaleInvest, SmartPurse, Ellevest and more.

Financial Basics

Let’s start with the basics. Here’s a breakdown of different financial providers and the purposes they serve:

Traditional Banks: These are great for basic banking needs such as savings and checking accounts, debit cards, and personal loans. They provide stability and accessibility for day-to-day financial activities.

Credit Unions: Similar to banks but often offer better interest rates on savings accounts and loans. Credit unions are member-owned, which can foster a sense of community and personalized service.

Online Banks: These institutions typically offer higher interest rates on savings accounts and lower fees compared to traditional banks. They’re convenient for those who prefer managing their finances digitally.

Robo-Advisors: Robo-advisors provide automated, algorithm-driven financial planning services with minimal human intervention. They’re suitable for individuals who want to invest but may not have the expertise or time to manage their portfolios actively.

Full-Service Brokerages: These offer a wide range of investment products, financial planning services, and personalized advice. They’re ideal for those who prefer a hands-on approach to investing and want access to professional guidance.

Discount Brokerages: These platforms offer fewer services compared to full-service brokerages but charge lower fees. They’re suitable for self-directed investors who are comfortable making their own investment decisions.

Financial Advisors: Personal financial advisors provide customized advice on various aspects of financial planning, including retirement planning, investment management, tax strategies, and estate planning. They can offer valuable guidance tailored to an individual’s unique financial situation and goals.

Insurance Providers: Insurance companies offer various types of coverage, including life insurance, health insurance, disability insurance, and property and casualty insurance. Women should ensure they have adequate insurance coverage to protect themselves and their families against unexpected events.

Why Does “For Women” Matter?

According to Ellevest, it matters to account for women’s differences.

  • Women earn 83 cents for every dollar earned by men. That’s a $900k disparity (or more) over a lifetime.
  • Different lifespans: 74% of women die single — i.e., we ultimately benefit from staying in control of our own finances.
  • Different needs: 62% of women say they have unique investment needs that aren’t understood by other advisors.

We have a long way to go, but things are changing. Among younger generations, the gap persists but shows signs of narrowing. For instance, the 2020 “Ellevest” report highlighted that 71% of millennial women were saving in some form of retirement account, but only 28% were investing in the stock market, compared to 41% of millennial men.

My Artistic and Financial Parody

Investing for the first time can be both exciting and intimidating. As someone who’s done art my whole life but still has much to learn, I find a curious parallel to being new to the world of investing and financial health. Before you start investing, take the time to learn the basics. Understand key concepts like stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, and the importance of diversification.

Define your financial goals. Are you saving for retirement, a house, your children’s education, or another goal? Your investment strategy will depend on your time horizon and risk tolerance.

You don’t need a lot of money to start investing. Begin with what you can afford and contribute regularly.

High fees can erode your returns over time. Look for low-cost investment options.

Investing is a long-term endeavour. Avoid trying to time the market and stay focused on your long-term goals.

Most of All, Just Get Started

On that note- 100daysprojectScotland starts 1st June. If you have been curious about what a daily practice could do for you, this is the perfect time to start.

Whether it’s in the realm of art or finance, the key is to get started. Join me as I navigate this new landscape. Let’s learn, grow, and build our independence together.

“Having to create everyday really does become a positive habit. Keeping up to speed with all of the other 100 dayers really did help to inspire at the end of a long day at work. I’m so glad I was part of this process.”

-Gavin Blackwell