Money touches all aspects of life, from beginning to end.
So why is it that so many woman know little about their own money and what it can do for them?
Borderland native Jayne Ellegard’s new book could change that.
And, she hopes it will be considered among the good things to come from the pandemic, she said.
“Financial Empowerment for Women: Your Guide to Courage, Confidence & Wisdom!,” is available locally, where books by local authors are offered.
It’s not a product of the normal book-writing process, she joked. And certainly not the lengthy research process used by her mom, Phyllis Karsnia, to write the three books she has authored involving characters from her family’s history.
Instead, the book came about as a result of group gatherings ordered stopped last spring because of the pandemic.
At that time, she was offering group sessions she developed as founder and coach of Ellegant Wealth, for women on wealth management.
Like many other businesses, she turned to the internet, developing an online course, said Ellegard, a Falls High School graduate, class of 1981.
It made sense to continue what she’d started online, and would use the input and experiences shared by women who’d taken part in the four group sessions, she said.
The in-person curriculum was in note form, and as she formatted her notes for the online course, she thought “Heck, I think I have a book.”
It’s the culmination of a career spent working in financial management, as of late focusing on educating woman about it.
“Money has a big impact on your financial future, your freedom, your security, all you can achieve,” she said. “So understanding it is really powerful.”
Lack of understanding
As she worked in the corporate world for 34 years investing personal and corporate wealth, she said she realized something was different about the way women understood and learned about money.
Often, when couples came to her for financial advice, the wife’s eyes would glaze over and she would lose interest as the husband and Ellegard discussed something of huge importance to them both.
Down the road, the husband might die, or they may divorce and the wife then urgently needed to understand their financial situation. “It was scary and overwhelming,” she said.
Ellegard said she began to wonder to where she could guide these woman for a quick education to fill the gap in their financial education, and decided they should come to her.
In the last years of her corporate career, she gained certifications as a career coach, and brain-based coach through the NeuroLeadership Institute, which trains based on science.
“I had been doing this duel track for the last couple years and I didn’t really know where it was leading, and then I thought, ‘This is it, this is what I need to do.’ I had this ‘Aha’ moment,” she said.
She left the corporate world two years ago and created a curriculum, developed around the “six pillars to financial empowerment.”
The first pillar is “explore your money beliefs,” Ellegard said adding the subtext is “marry a rich man,” as her dad Leo Karsnia told her as a young woman.
The belief that had been handed down to her was the idea money is good, she said, and so many other people may have heard money is bad, and rich people are greedy.
“Stepping back and understanding your beliefs about money can be so powerful,” she explained.
The other five pillars are: establish your financial goals; know your net worth; spend with purpose; learn to speak “investments” — the largest chapter in the book; and protect and plan.
A lot of the thought process involved in the first five pillars leads people to their final chapter, wealth protection and planning: “What is your heartfelt legacy, more than what happens to your money after you die, it’s about what you do with it when you’re alive,” she explained.
“I was trying to make everything I was doing welcoming and inviting to women,” she said noting that many influences in the financial industry are male dominated and masculine feeling.
“Women have not felt invited in, so how can we talk about this in a different way?” she said, hoping to avoid women feeling overwhelmed or even bored by the topic.
She said she’s heard many women say their brain doesn’t do math, or numbers, or money. “I want to change that around,” she said, adding that she spends time on investments, explaining the lingo, and other concepts.
“We don’t talk about money,” she said. “We have to break down that ‘money is taboo’ barrier and start learning together.”
Ellegard said it’s magical to watch some women talk about financial things together, with her leading them through experiences and situations they may or may not have shared.
Throughout the book are stories of women who experienced financial transformation. “I have had women ages 30 to 75 at all wealth levels go through the program, and they have seemed to benefit.”
She also includes exercises in the book, similar to the group sessions, to assist while reading, and also to which to refer in the future.
“My mom always told me, ‘you have to write down your goals,’ and it does make a difference,” she said, adding that research has found that people truly achieve the goals they express in writing.
It’s not just women not being taught about finances. She said she’s been approached about developing a course for men, as well, adding few schools teach about it.
Ellegard said she encourages people to have a relationship with money, because it’s in your life and you interact with it almost daily.
“Why not have a positive relationship with it, and feel good about it and what it’s doing for you?” she said.
The pandemic highlighted the need for all people, especially women, to know about their financial health, she said.
“So many people were impacted in some way shape or form by the pandemic, whether to take a pay cut, hours cut, furloughed, laid off, or worse case scenario someone died in their life from COVID,” she said.
Those situations could create a need for money as well as a need to be a good steward of money inherited, she said.
Being busy in day to day life leaves little time for thinking about finances, but once someone processes the ideas involved in the pillars they have a better understanding and ability to plan.
Ellegard said for some women, the course has been life changing, allowing them to participate in their own financial future. “I finally feel like we are financial partners,” she said a husband said to his wife.
“It really can change the dynamic if you learn how to get involved,” she said.
Ellegard said she hopes again to do the group sessions for women, but in the meantime, she has many speaking engagements, including with the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota.