Crypto: it's complicated. We’ve been talking about it for years now, and it still terrifies most of us. There’s a currency out there, many, in fact, living on the internet, breathing life into nefarious global arms dealings, underground and illegal money transfers, and many of us are very hesitant to approach it.
When you’re new to Bitcoin or cryptocurrencies or Blockchain (the technology that allows users to trade with one another without a centralized figure, like a bank, getting involved) and all of these absurd terms that just seem beyond the realm of comprehension, yes it is absolutely daunting. When you hear the Chinese government says no to crypto, that seems ridiculous. Why would anyone invest in crypto if governments are shutting it down? So yes indeed, it is to some extent ridiculous, but for the most part, it's ridiculous because nobody really knows what crypto is yet. It’s abstract, difficult to use and most folks out there (like the Chinese government) are still largely unsure and wary about its purpose.
When I first heard of the currency, I only had one question: can I go on my next absurd ASOS shopping spree with Bitcoin? And the simple answer is no. At least, not right now. So naturally, I was immediately put off. First off, one Bitcoin is worth about $8.3k currently (I’m an overspender, but not to this extent), and secondly, it remains to be seen when sites like ASOS or Nordstrom or Net-A-Porter will allow cryptocurrencies as forms of payment alongside credit/debit cards and Paypal.
For many of the experts I’ve chatted with below, this appears to be one of the fundamental reasons so few women are trading in crypto. The practical applications as such are few, and only promise to become more widely accessible and user-friendly in five, ten years down the line. It also doesn’t help that the Blockchain programmes used by crypto traders are a pain to use, and not aesthetically appealing in the slightest. When you look at websites and apps that attract a female audience and engagement, they are curated, easy-to-navigate, and only require a credit card entry should a purchase need to be made. Any websites connected to these currencies are annoying, often times confusing, and extremely ugly.
Below I've chatted to experts from trading to advising and beyond on why women have been slow to jump on the crypto wagon, and why we should be investing right now.
A screenshot of one of the typical crypto trading sites
"There are already Bitcoin ATM’s in bodegas across NYC, there are coffee shops and pizza places that accept cryptocurrency, (and) a potential Amazon cryptocurrency in the works. So yes I would say you will be able to buy almost anything with cryptocurrency in a few years."
-Barbara Soltysinska, CEO and Co-Founder of indaHash
Why we’re not investing
“Risk aversion.” It’s a term that’s been repeated to me over and over again throughout the course of my research on women and crypto. Women are typically more risk averse than their male counterparts because that’s just the way we are. When confronted with something completely off the wall, like a digital currency that you can't see or feel or understand without studying it, we've trained ourselves to steer clear. As an extension of this, it's estimated that only 4-6 percent of cryptocurrency users are women. At a recent conference on crypto, fintech expert Holly Glowaty's co-panellist shared a familiar stat we've seen across the internet. "She said a man will apply for a job if he has 60 percent of the required skills and experience; a woman will wait until she has 100 percent!" Glowaty remarks. "I think this stat applies also to most women when asked to raise their hands as experts on a topic or invest in something."
If there’s anything we’ve learned in our studies of women in business and the world of commerce from a female perspective, it’s that we’re raised traditionally to be cautious, to play it safe. Leave the risks to the men, let them take the big falls, make the big mistakes, and we’ll be fine.
That’s all well and good, and sure, studies say women are better investors for it because they will study and become extremely knowledgeable of prospective investments before diving in, but this also means that men will continue to be the ones who "make the big bucks." When you look at the big emerging industries of the past, the first investors in major stocks of Facebook, Google and Amazon, were all men! Notice a pattern emerging?
Aside from the psychological factors however, our lack of investment in this burgeoning industry also might be because women like to see their money. This Vogue article, while placing women in an inevitably shallow bucket, instructs on how better you might spend your prospective Bitcoin investment on 10 pairs of YSL sunglasses, or designer trench coats. Admittedly, the piece reads with an air of condescension, but also, how often do you find yourself justifying a major retail spend by calling it "an investment piece.""I think volatility [in crypto] is very much to be expected. You can't have an asset that appreciates 10x + in a given year and not see some downside volatility -- two sides of the same coin. As the markets grow and more stakeholders own cryptocurrencies, the volatility will decrease."
-Arianna Simpson, Founder and Managing Director of Autonomous Partners
Pretty much how we feel about crypto... Confused
Why it’s imperative women remain within the conversation
So while the point of this article is not to instruct you to immediately drop everything and put all of your savings into digital currency, it is important that we're at the very least talking about crypto and about both its benefits and follies.
To remain in the conversation right now is to form an opinion on this abstract and convoluted subject. Know what currencies might interest you in the future. Know what currencies are based upon operating businesses you're interested in (Amazon might be launching a coin soon).
indaHash, a global technology platform that automates content marketing campaigns via a mobile application, has created its own digital currency in order to help with payment between influencers and brands worldwide. CEO and Co-Founder of indaHash, Barbara Soltysinska, has lead the charge within the company to create the coin. "We are implementing a crypto-economic system into our app so that influencers, brands and fans can all work together via indaHash Coin," says Soltysinska."I believe the future of influencer marketing will be highly impacted by cryptocurrency which is why we decided to move to a blockchain based approach to achieve this goal. We want to develop our platform and give influencers and brands the possibility to run campaigns via smart contracts and use indaHash tokens as a remuneration and reward solution," she adds.
Practical applications like this abound in cryptocurrencies, but can often be difficult to find and require studying, the knowledge of which however will serve you in the long run.
Being apart of the conversation on this new, innovative way to trade money, make money and exchange money is to remain in touch with current affairs, as you would with the news or the latest DailyMail snapchat story (just with more numbers, and the possibility of a reward at the end). Even if you are unwilling to invest money, (which is totally fine), being able to keep up with the rhetoric and nuances of the industry will assure you won't be susceptible to mansplaining. Bro culture absolutely exists in crypto, and certainly isn't helping the percentage of crypto users that are women grow. Tiana Laurence, author of Blockchain for Dummies comments, "a lot of the [crypto] communities can be quite combative, and women like to be collaborative." Allowing the bro culture that pervades every other aspect of the tech industry into crypto means the low numbers of female crypto users will remain. Educating ourselves and being aware of what's in store for crypto users will mean an easier entry for women in the future and will give you an insight into trading that you might otherwise never have realized.
“The most important thing here is to (A) ensure you have not put in more than you are willing to lose and (B) always keep in mind the long term timescale,”
-Brianna MacNeil, Product Manager, Blockchain at RightMesh
Why experts believe it’s a good time to get in
Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies have been all over the news recently because they majorly decreased in value. The drop was due to some new regulation in China and a smattering of reports that said other governments were going to start legislating over the industry. Given the uncertainty, a lot of people "pulled out," i.e. they sold all their crypto money and made a mad dash for safer options, like their bank account, or the traditional stock exchange.
This is no different than people pulling out of their Netflix stock if say, they heard whispers that the next season of The Crown is going to stink because Claire Foy isn't in it. But because it's cryptocurrency, and people still don't really understand it, the whole world is in shock.
This is why, experts are saying - get in now. SWAAY isn't here to give you advice on your investment portfolio, but, as Laurence so cheekily states, "if we were shoe shopping, the shoes [being a metaphor for cryptocurrency] are on sale." Currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin are dropping in price, making this a good time to get in on the game if you've been reluctant so far and have a spare bit of cash lying around. "Invest in one that won't break the bank," Glowaty recommends. "And has a foundation you are excited about. Each cryptocurrency has its own story. Find one that speaks to you; that encourages an ecosystem that excites you, or is backed by an industry you love. Just invest in one and you will be surprised by how quickly you start to understand it and begin to get nerdy about it."
Brianna McNeil of RightMesh says do not FOMO. "It can be tempting to purchase when the price seems like it will keep going up forever. When you feel this way, remember the Warren Buffet quote, 'Be Fearful When Others Are Greedy and Greedy When Others Are Fearful’. Prices can fluctuate wildly within a 24 hour window, it’s important to stay rational and try not to react emotionally to market fluctuations. That’s an easy way to end up losing money if you aren’t careful!"
Moral of the story is ladies, be informed. Know what's best for you and should you engage with the world of crypto, do us all a favor and share the knowledge. We're all listening.
Three years ago, I made a deal with myself - I wanted to have $100,000 saved when I'm 25. But I didn't mind if it didn't happen until the day before my 26th birthday.
One of my biggest priorities in life has always been to save as much money as possible — and I owe much of that to my parents, who made sure I had a strong financial education at a young age.
My dad even helped me start a vending machine business when I was nine. The experience taught me essential skills like how to pitch a business, cope with rejection and open a checking and savings account.
For the past three years, I've never made more than $80,000. About a year ago, I reviewed my rate of savings and investments and realized that I was on track to save $100,000. With only a car loan away from being debt free, I've got another year and $10K to go!
I want to acknowledge that privilege is a key part of my story. I'm white, I come from a middle-class family, and I was able to graduate college without any debt. All these things helped a great deal.
But my parents didn't raise me with a silver spoon. Paying for college was a collaborative process. We'd sit down at least twice a year to discuss how we were going to pay for the next semester. The first question they'd always ask me was: "How much can you contribute?"
I've been fortunate. But it also takes a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and responsibility to save and maximize your earnings. Feeling motivated and knowing that I'll be prepared for whatever life throws my way fuels my drive to keep making smart financial decisions. Here's how I'm getting to $100K.
- I side-hustled
This kick-started my journey towards six-figures. In addition to saving the majority of my 9-5 salary, my first year of freelance social media marketing made me quite a bit of cash that I could immediately save. I was able to establish both a SEP IRA and a fully-funded emergency fund with my earnings.
2. I started investing early
Knowing that compound interest is so important, I wanted to start investing early to have my money work for me. Once I started my first big-girl job, I opened my first Roth IRA. Starting to save for retirement at age 22, I was able to max out my Roth each year and also contribute to aSEP IRA and a non-retirement investment account. My first job out of school had a 401(k), but you couldn't contribute until you were there at least a year. Knowing I wasn't planning on staying long — I was at that job for a year and a few months — I opened a Roth 401(k) and then rolled my earnings to my Roth IRA.
3. I negotiated salary offers and raises
Negotiating should be a collaboration, not a confrontation. Growing up, I watched my father sit on hold, patiently waiting to negotiate our cable and phone bills. Negotiation was always part of my life, and I grew up with parents who knew how to do it. So when I was offered my first social media freelance gig, I negotiated over $10k more than they offered. And after achieving a 20% bump at my first 9-5, I negotiated $20k more than what was offered at my next job. And $10k more at the next job. If negotiating for raises freaks you out, here's a guide that can help.
4. I've automated my savings
Automating your money not only makes your life easier, but it makes you feel like the percentage you're saving just doesn't exist. I have 26% of each paycheck automatically deposited into a high-yield savings account. This savings account is purposefully at a different bank than my day-to-day checking account, so I'm less likely to withdraw from it and less likely to think about it. This "set it and forget it" level of financial freedom was something I worked hard for -- through money diarying, budgeting, and conscious spending. So now, my savings amount is completely on autopilot.
At the age of 24, I know that I am on the right track to make my goal a reality. Inspired by my own journey, I wanted to help women everywhere to have that same feeling of confidence that financial education gives — and get information from someone who isn't an old, rich white dude. As a money speaker and coach, I run Her First $100K, a financial literacy platform for millennial women on the path to get their first $100K too.
It's possible to achieve your first $100K — whether that's debt paid off, earned, saved, invested, or something else. With intentional strategies and focus, you've got this!