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The personification of Super Powers has been the fascination of human nature for centuries. The very center of our beliefs and faiths is grounded on the premise that we all have a Super Power residing in us. The force of number of establishments are built around them. And for the most part, new startups would not flourish without their founders being portrayed as them.
Today we dig into the Super Power of such a Founder. Meet Amanda Steinberg, the founder of the ultra successful, multi-million dollar personal finance portal for women, DailyWorth.
If you were to liken yourself to a Super Power (any gender) who would it be and why?
So I guess the Super Power I would be is a chameleon , believe it or not. I was born with a really interesting ability to hear and reflect whoever I’m with. Whether I’m with a CEO at the top of a sky scrapper or a janitor. This allows me to relate to and connect with an incredibly wide range of people.
So you started out working in tech as a programmer for 10 years, earning a great 6 digit salary. And you had said in a previous interview that you realized that you had created an expensive lifestyle for yourself. Can you elaborate on how you fell into that?
So I taught myself computer programming in college. It was in 1999 and it was a very convenient time to learn that skill. There was so much demand for it, like there still is today. I built 2 companies over 10 years that employed designers and developers so we can take on really big projects for other companies. And it was not so much that I was a big spender. But I was young and had no idea how to buy a house and what it meant to afford having children. The types of ideas I inherited from the way my parents lived, which were “normal”, I then adopted as part of my life.
My real financial trouble that lead to me starting DailyWorth was really that my lifestyle got out of control. I was in such a rush to be an adult. I bought the house, I got married, I had kids, grew my business. And doing all that stuff so aggressively so young, without really understanding what was going on, I ended up buying too big of a house that needed its windows replaced. Alongside that my business grew but I didn’t understand taxes. And so tens and tens of thousands of dollars of debt continued to pile up, even as my income increased.
I know that a story that many are familiar with is that just because you make money, doesn’t mean that you have any.
My story is one example of that. You have to buy my book Worth It, which recently came out. I have the whole story there
I feel like a lot of us millennials go through the same thing, where we are expected to progress materially and upgrade our lifestyles. Would you say there was any social pressure in your case?
Yeah, although I found the pressure wasn’t really about the type of house that I bought or the type of car that I drove. The pressure was really around getting married, and having children so young. I thought that there was something wrong with me if I wasn’t married by age 24. And I was in a rush to get “there”. Wherever “there” was. What also accelerated the spiral was that I also had professional ambition. Doing everything at the same time, you’re bound to crash.
What was the tipping point where you were like, okay let’s re-route our money GPS, eventually leading you to start Daily Worth?
The tipping point was in 2008. I was 6 months pregnant with my second child. I was exhausted, making a lot of money but also increasingly in debt. During that time I got a $60,000.00 tax bill from the government. My business ironically had jumped so much in revenue that I didn’t adjust the quarterly taxes. That wiped out all of our savings. It was in that moment I realized that I’m peddling to be more financially independent but I’m getting worse and worse. So I signed up for a money psychology workshop in New York City which was so illuminating. And that’s when I decided to start DailyWorth.
And how do you balance it all? Being a mother, wife and building a successful career?
I’m a strong believer in equal marriages, were the primary care is distributed. I think that’s very important. The father of my kids takes on a fair amount of the work of raising our children. The only reason I’m able to do what I do is because I have nights that are my own, where I can travel and do my work.
As a woman, make sure early on that you do not become the default for everything because you will break from the pressure.
It’s very important if you are an ambitious woman to seek out a partner who is not threatened by that. If you don’t want any limitations to your ambitions, make sure that you will not be with somebody who is going to be threatened by you.
Can you name any gender specific stumbling blocks, if any, that stood in your way of your financial success as you went about building your business.
I never had any before I entered the world of finance. As a programmer, I was running my own show so there was no limit to my earning potential. The things that held me back financially was really not understanding what to do with my money. I assumed that any house that you got would be an investment and didn’t realize all of the things that can actually make it a liability, not an asset.
Furthermore, I thought that budgeting was the only way to be successful with your finances. I tried over and over again to follow a budget. And when it didn’t work out I would assume that there is something that is wrong with me and I would go into a money comma and ignore my finances for months and months at a time. I tried to follow certain ideas of what it looked like to be successful with money. But they were either out of date, or didn’t apply to my personality.
How has the journey been so far, running this successful business that’s impacting millions of women’s lives?
It’s a very extreme “panic euphoric spectrum”. There’s no boredom. You’re either in this place of bliss, which is fleeting but powerful. Or you’re upping your game and it’s really hard. I don’t want to sugarcoat that. I don’t want people to think that I have magical powers. If I do have any magical powers, I guess it would probably just be resilience.
So there are stereotypes around women not being good with money, yet research has shown that women are most likely to be the decision makers when it comes to money in the household. What has been the response from women reading Daily Worth given such existing stereotypes?
The funny thing is when I was raising venture capital money for DailyWorth, one investor asked me: “Don’t you just want to be taken care of?”. Another one said to me: “Women don’t really care about money. My wife just likes to spend my money. So that made my blood boil and made me even more determined to realize why there wasn’t such a platform offering intelligent advice for women. It’s actually still a bit of a social taboo for women to be fully independent.
The response from women was one of a kind. It was huge. I’ve started like 6 businesses in my life. Being a programmer I could take any idea and turn it into a business. But this one was overwhelming in how I felt it was aligned with my purpose.
If you were speaking to your younger self, 10 years ago, what is the best piece of advice would you give regarding money, life, career, choices?
I really didn’t understand the ideas in my head around how my life was supposed to be. Those ideas I guess had been inherited from my society or from my family. What I actually really wanted, some of them were aligned. I knew I always wanted children and I had somewhat of a vision of the lifestyle I wanted to live. But truthfully I’m not driven by material things. A bigger house and a bigger fancier car don’t motivate me. But I did live way beyond my means.
And there’s something really beautiful about having cash. Especially if you live in a big city where it is expensive and you don’t have enough money, but you feel like you have to put on an appearance of being successful.
What I’d say to my younger self is that you don’t have to put up an appearance of success. Instead, really try and figure out how to keep your overhead low so that you can build the muscle of cash savings.
That is so important. I would have lived a way smaller material life in the early days. It’s so relevant in this age of social media, where we feel like we have to pretend to have made it, when really we’re still figuring things out.
And to the young woman who isn’t earning according to her potential, what would your advice to her be?
My advice would be understand who gets compensation in businesses. There are really two skills that generate the most income. The first is if you’re in a revenue generating position. If you’re in a sales role, or a marketing role that’s directly tied to revenue. They become the most valuable in the business. And they can command by far the highest salary. So learn how to be on the revenue generating side of a business. That warrants you the capacity to really increase your earnings.
The second one is technological skills. Go to skillcrush.com, build your own website. Learn how to code. Those are such critical roles and that’s where a lot of the budget goes. So if you are not in a role that’s revenue generating or you’re not in a role that has technological or digital aspects, gain those skills because those are the positions that garner higher salaries.
And what is the best piece of financial advice that you can give to anyone reading this today?
Focus on one number. And that one number is your net worth.
And net worth is the value of what you own. The value of your business, the value of your home, the value of your investment account, how much cash you have. And you subtract from that the cost of your mortgage, how much you have on your credit card, how much you have on your student loan. It may feel uncomfortable at first. Especially if that number is negative. What’s important isn’t how quickly you get to the positive, but that you simply begin moving in that direction. Once you’ve figured that out you’re totally on your way. That’s the most important step in the world on money.