• 11 Jul 2017 11:37 AM | Barbara J. Provost (Administrator)

    I am so proud of Purse String’s growing list of achievements. As any entrepreneur knows, when you start a project, you do so boldly and confidently - planning it will be triumphant. I have had the good fortune of creating and partaking in many successful ventures throughout my career.

    When I designed Purse Strings it was different. My motivation was sparked by the lack of honest, grassroots financial advice, and the remarkable scarcity of available resources for women. A 14 trillion-dollar industry that was perpetually being underserved.

    I dove into this realization full-force and committed to changing the script. Pulling together the stats and figures from intense research, I mapped out my blueprint. In partnership with of some of the most widely regarded and respected financial experts available today, I developed a place where women from all walks of life can come together, to lean on and learn from one another.

    Women are greatly underprepared for their financial future. The difference between vulnerability and security is knowledge, combined with proper planning. There isn’t a magic formula; no one-size-fits-all. The puzzle pieces fit differently based on many factors (such as age) and circumstances (like divorce).

    I recently had an interview with Cindy Taylor from FintekNews. Produced by veteran media and financial experts, Finteknews offers readers a quick overview of trending stories from the world of Fintech. Cindy and I discussed Purse Strings, the obstacles for women - brought on by an unsympathetic financial industry, and the specific challenges faced by the female entrepreneurs of today.

    The data is very clear and there are solutions. We need access to the proper financial resources; we must have more women represented in the leadership roles they so justly deserve. Leveraging the power of our natural abilities to negotiate, we can change our relationship with money and investing; charting and securing our own financial course.

    As a collective, we will continue to make great strides to level the playing field for us and the women of tomorrow. Through financial tools, expert guidance and the power of our unified voices, Purse Strings is determined to spread information, build fortitude and change the landscape.

    If you would like more information about our community or our training programs, please email us at info@pursestrings.co. 


    I want us to pave this road together!

  • 22 Feb 2017 12:53 PM | Barbara J. Provost (Administrator)

    February is the month of LOVE but let’s face it – divorce happens. 

    This month I had the pleasure of presenting Purse Strings to members of NAIFA (National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisers). I provided powerful information on how they can engage with Purse Strings, (www.pursestrings.co) to learn how to engage with the powerful 14 trillion-dollar female market, and grow their business.

    After the session, I was sent an email from Susan, a financial planner, who thanked me for the information and told me about her Certified Financial Divorce Practitioner (CFDP) certification and how useful Purse Strings will be for her female clients. The CFDP certification is for financial planners who want to work with men and women going through divorce. Although the divorce rate is going down it is a tough time for women. The Atlantic reports that women see a 20% decline in income when their marriages end.

    As a result of Susan’s email, I felt it was important to share information about the roles of Certified Financial Divorce Practitioners, also known as a Certified Financial Divorce Specialists (CFDS), and Certified Divorce Financial Analysts (CDFA).

    Key Advice During Divorce

    According to the site Investopedia, a Certified Financial Divorce Practitioner is “a member of the Academy of Financial Divorce Practitioners who is certified in the financial aspects of divorce. A certified financial divorce practitioner (CFDP) looks to explain the financial implications of divorce settlements, such as child support, asset distribution, and alimony.”

    The role of the Certified Divorce Financial Analysts (CDFA) differs slightly and includes “acting as an advisor to one party's divorce lawyer, or as a mediator for both parties. A CDFA uses his or her knowledge of tax law, asset distribution, and short- and long-term financial planning to achieve an equitable settlement.”

    A Focus On Financial Issues

    The Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts (IDFA™) explains that all of these specialists are specifically trained to help their clients with the distinct financial issues of a divorce including:

    • Personal vs. marital property
    • Valuing and dividing property
    • Retirement assets and pensions
    • Spousal and child support
    • Splitting the house
    • Tax problems and solutions
    • Expert witness testimony
    • Tax law and financial issues affecting divorce

    These specialists can help analyze the financial effects of a divorce settlement and collect and analyze a client’s financial information to present options for budgeting, financial goals, and retirement objectives.

    Assistance From Purse Strings

    As I mentioned in my last blog post my goal is to help women become financially fearless. I see women all around me who are struggling to make ends meet, or who are working well past their retirement years. I can’t un-see it. I created Purse Strings because, like the little boy in the starfish story I know I cannot help every woman, but I can make an impact on those I can.

    Purse Strings offers women knowledge, tools and skills to learn what they need to know to make smart financial decisions for themselves and their families. It’s free to join and there is a small cost to attend dynamic and powerful sessions that arm women with what they need to do!

    But the financial industry needed to step-up as well. Women need these products and services and we need them now. To turn the tide from an industry which lacks a woman’s trust, to one that can honor and serve her unique needs, Purse Strings put together a step-by-step marketing strategy to make it happen.

    If you are a woman, work with women, are a friend, sister, or brother to a woman who needs to learn how to make smart financial decisions, join me in helping, one woman at a time, to become financially fearless. Send them to Purse Strings!

  • 02 Jan 2017 7:00 AM | Barbara J. Provost (Administrator)

    2016 was an amazing year! Purse Strings kicked off and I’ve met some amazing people and moved this mission forward. I can’t lie – it hasn’t been easy. Any entrepreneur will tell you that we work 100 hours a week for ourselves so we don’t have to work 40 hours for someone else.

    Purse Strings is my passion. I see its importance every day! I can’t unsee it. It’s in the college student who asks what “deductions” mean on her tax forms. It’s in the graduate students who tells me “she doesn’t know about anything I just talked about.” And, the topic was auto insurance premiums and deductions. I see it in the cashier at the grocery store who is well past retirement age, and I wonder – does she want to be here? Or does she have to be here because of financial constraints?

    I hope you’ve seen my social media posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s an effort to promote Purse Strings, be financially conscious and provide financial tips. To practice what I preach, I took these tips to heart and made some changes of my own.

    Here are my conscious strides to minimize spending and maximize savings. 

    • Sold my Beetle: I had two cars. I loved my VW Beetle convertible I drove in the summer. It had Turbo and was FUN! But, with my daughter moving to college I didn’t need two cars.
      Here are my savings: Sold the Beetle, changed my auto policies from two cars to one, took my college bound daughter off my auto policy, in-turn minimized auto maintenance and upkeep, along with State licenses plate stickers and an iPass. I easily saved over $20K.
    • Sold my House: Yep – the biggest purchase of my life and I sold it.  Why? With kids in college I didn’t need a big house any more. My taxes were going up and I didn’t have helping hands to shovel or mow – so I put it on the market. I downsized to a townhouse where outside maintenance is not my responsibility. I chose to rent over buy. 
      Here are my savings: Sold the house, paid the remainder of the children’s tuition and stashed away the rest. By renting. I am not responsible for maintenance or upkeep; shoveling or lawn care, and changed my homeowners insurance to a renter’s policy. My new digs are a bit smaller which minimizes utilities. Minimized my monthly costs $300-400 a month!
    • Sold my Road bike: I’ve moved on from participating in triathlons so I had my road bike tuned up and put it on Craigs list. I donated the family tandem to a young family and gave my “going to the market bike” to a consignment shop. No worries, I still have my Mountain bike!
      I earned $400+ dollars in equipment that was just taking up space in my garage.
    • Sold some furniture: Moving from a family home to a townhouse allowed me to pair down on furniture. I used apps like Offer Up, the local consignment store and my neighborhood newsletter to sell the extras that I no longer need, or want. I sold a Couch, ottoman, tray, glass table, small dining table, lawn mower and shovels, and a few nick-knacks.
      I earned about $600 dollars.
    • Donated, Donated, Donated: I became Goodwill’s major contributor. Every day I had a box or bag full of cds, dvds, rugs, ornaments, clothes, glasses, mugs and other miscellaneous items. 
      My savings? A great tax deduction.
    • Stopped Automatic Purchases: No more monthly Stich-Fixes, Pandora without commercials, Audible books or monthly Sport Apps. I looked at all the items that were automatically rolling over from month to month. They may seem like small monthly amounts but they add up. All were stopped, except for one – my health conscious Weight Watcher fee. 
      My savings? $300+ a month.
    • Didn’t Renew Big Box Memberships: With the kids at school my food bill has gone down – way down. So, no need to retain a memberships to the big box store since I am only shopping for one. 
      Here’s my saving: 200+ annual membership.
    • Cut my housecleaning in half: Instead of a cleaning service every other week, I changed it to once a month. Again, just me (and my dog) so it’s easier to keep things cleaner. A full cleaning of the house once a month is all I need. 
      Nice savings: $1200 a year!

    I feel great about these changes, about purging the excess, and about the additional income and savings! Less is more is my motto for 2017. And, I will continue to look for more ways to live more efficiently. 

    I challenge you to take a look around your house and in your checkbook to look for easy-to-do actions that can rack up big savings for you and your future!

    A few things I am not parting with? My mani/pedis, monthly massage, and of course a great glass of red wine!

    Cheers to you in the New Year!

    Be Financially Fearless!

  • 20 Oct 2016 8:00 AM | Barbara J. Provost (Administrator)
    Financial gains for womenDoesn’t winning feel great? That’s because it’s hard work and when it pays off, it’s worth it! Winning takes physical and mental effort, whether that’s on the baseball field or managing your finances. Luck does play a part, but generally you get out what you put in.

    A Baseball Example

    When the chips are down, the Cubs know how to pull out a win. It looked a little scary, but winning 10 to 2 in Game 4—in Los Angeles, thank you—tied the series at two games each and showed the world what real winners do. They keep on pushing until the final out and don’t listen to the nay-sayers.

    Another successful blowout in game 5 finds us heading back home to Wrigley where Cubs fans can use their winning energy to help the team win the Pennant and head into the World Series. And, our energy does help, so be ready to give it all you’ve got for our Cubs!

    Financial Wins For Women

    It’s also critical for women to put that winning effort into managing their finances. According to a recent article on Time.com, more than one-third of American women are the chief breadwinners in their families. And women are winning in business as well, owning 30 percent of all private businesses that employ more than 7.8 billion Americans. Yet with all that success, many times women defer their decisions on investing and retirement to others.

    “Women tend to be insecure about the subject of money; we focus on scrimping instead of investing; we rely too heavily on others for financial know-how; and we’re not always adept at translating abstract figures into concrete goals,” says the article, and it outlines four barriers that we have about managing our finances:

    1. Lack Of Confidence
    2. Focus On Immediate Money Details
    3. Expecting Someone Else To Handle The Finances
    4. Not Realizing That Actual Dollars Are Just As Important As How We’ll Use Them –

    If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone and you can get past these barriers. Knowledge is one excellent way to gain confidence about your finances and money in general.  And, that’s where Purse Strings comes in!  We offer the opportunity for women to meet in small groups and learn the details, one topic at a time.  It’s fun, engaging and so needed!

    It’s important for all women to be the architects of their own financial future, and today that is more possible than ever before. Barriers can be broken; we can win big. Contact us to learn how Purse Strings can help you become financially fearless!!

  • 05 Jul 2016 8:44 PM | Barbara J. Provost (Administrator)

    financial freedom for womenWhat happens when insurance and financial professionals, notorious for making the men in the room the focus of their attention, don’t change their engagement approach? A $14 trillion dollar untapped market is created. Unknowingly, a huge latent market has been created and at the same time, women have inadvertently adopted a “hands-off” attitude. Yet, women have made incredible strides over the years by moving up the ranks, owning their own business and attaining higher education, just to name a few. Now, we are in control of trillions! That’s great wealth and we can use our influence to make positive change. It’s time to take charge of our financial futures.

    Women who take a “hands off” approach when it comes to their financial well-being can suffer consequences. We can be winners in the workplace, leaders in our communities, and multi-tasking mothers – yet somehow we have a blind spot when it comes to our financial health. The thought, “I’ll get to that later” often leads to feelings of nervousness, insecurity, and discomfort surrounding financial issues for many women. It doesn’t have to be this way.

    What I’ve seen over and over, and what motivated me to create Purse Strings, is the trouble some women find themselves in when they experience a major life change and the cruel realization that she should have paid more attention to her finances.

    Purse Strings is here to change all that! It is our time, now, ladies. We are building a community where women can learn about managing money and taking control of our financial futures. These affordable and stress-free learning events tackle one topic at a time and our women walk away with easy-to-follow lessons to refer back to as they use our strategies in real life. Moreover, Purse Strings provides our women with a list of women-friendly service providers within their community, upon whom they can rely on to serve their unique needs. We engage with professionals that will meet female customers where they are - not the other way around.

    Purse Strings is a learning resource that empowers women to master their relationship with money.

    It’s your life, live it your way. Let Purse Strings teach you how!

    www.pursestrings.co.

    Join us on this journey! Can you afford not to?

    Live Boldly,
    Barb

    Barbara Provost,
    Purse Strings/Founder & CEO

    July 2016

  • 02 Jun 2016 12:46 PM | Barbara J. Provost (Administrator)

    Who doesn’t like to get together with their girlfriends for a glass of wine or cup of tea and just chat?  After all that was the successful model for Tupperware and now we see it with jewelry, clothing lines, and home products; it’s ladies getting together and having fun.

    I am using this same model as a way for women to get together, and in fun and easy ways, build their financial future. 

    Why?  For lots of reasons! 

    First off, its 2016 ladies and time we took control of our own finances – no more passing the responsibility off to someone else, or just plain ignoring it!  We need to be a partner in these conversations.

    I’ve watched friends and family members struggle when their life enters a new phase.  Perhaps they’re just starting out on their own for the first time, or they’re suddenly single again. Sometimes they’re facing the breakup of a long-term relationship, or a divorce, or the sudden death of a beloved spouse.  We sit down over a cup coffee or a glass of wine to talk and not surprisingly, the topic often turns to money.

    Why? Because the truth is - we have concerns.

    My friends talk about their fears, the times they felt slighted while meeting with financial professionals, or confess that didn’t really know what to do because their partner or parents had always handled the finances. Now, with everything else they need to sort out in their lives, they feel overwhelmed, intimidated and sometimes even frightened about taking charge of their finances.

    After years of working in the financial/insurance industry and seeing women overlooked as valuable consumers, and now hearing stories of women needing help, I saw the need to create a community where women from all walks of life could come together to learn about money and prepare for their financial future.  The goal is to remove feelings of financial vulnerability from their lives. 

    After a lot of research, investigation with experts in the financial industry and talking with countless groups of women, I discovered that there is a huge need.  Women are looking for a place where they can feel comfortable asking questions without fear of being judged, learn what is needed to make good financial decisions, and work with professionals they can trust without the pressure of a sales pitch.

    From my years as a corporate educator, I know that many financial services professionals are not even aware of how they are missing the mark with women. 

    Women have told me, and the data supports, that women are not comfortable asking questions of insurance and financial professionals. Worse, there’s a lack of trust and listening that can make these experiences feel like a waste of time. Women often feel dismissed and therefore, unmotivated to ask questions. 

    And yet, women are a 14 trillion dollar market!

    And, that’s power we can leverage!!

    The truth is women need proper insurance.  Women need to invest their money so they are ready for retirement.  Women need a financial plan they can understand and rely on.

    Purse Strings is a community that will allow you to feel financially fearless when it comes to your retirement. And, we will work with the insurance and financial industries to teach them how to serve you and earn your dollars.  We’ve already started working with financial services professionals to teach them how they can better serve you!

    We look for financial professionals who are invested in enhancing their practices to serve women. When a financial professional pass our qualifications, they become “Purse Strings Approved,” which means that they are perfectly equipped to serve our diverse community of women.

    Women who want to take charge of their financial future are invited to join Purse Strings by clicking here.

    Insurance and financial providers who are ready to be Purse Strings Approved can take the first step by registering for our upcoming What Women Want event on June 29th in Grayslake.

    Join me on this journey to live boldly,

    Barb

    Barbara Provost,
    Purse Strings/Founder & CEO
    June 2016


    Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  • 10 May 2016 1:51 PM | Barbara J. Provost (Administrator)

    The wind is howling outside as I write this. Strong gusts of spring-like air that make it feel more like late April than mid-March. The winds of change, so to speak, and it seems somehow fitting as I launch Purse Strings out into the world.

    I wasn’t planning on a wind storm today, and I certainly hope I don’t lose a tree, but these gusts of wind are a reminder that we all face storms in our lives and it is in the aftermath that we have the opportunity to assess the damage, make repairs, and in some cases, rebuild.

    That’s what I’m doing with Purse Strings, encouraging women to a build new, stronger financial future, one they’ve designed for themselves.

    My passion has always been helping people feel confident and competent in the work that they do.

    I’ve watched friends and family members struggle when their life enters a new phase.  Perhaps they’re just starting out on their own for the first time, or they’re suddenly single again. Sometimes they’re facing the breakup of a long-term relationship, or a divorce, or the sudden death of a beloved spouse.

    We sit down over a cup coffee or a glass of wine to talk and not surprisingly the topic often turns to money. They share stories about the times they felt slighted while meeting with financial professionals, or confess that didn’t really know what to do because their partner or parents had always handled the finances. Now, with everything else they need to sort out in their lives, they feel overwhelmed, intimidated and sometimes even frightened about taking charge of their finances.

    That’s when I knew I needed to create a community where women from all walks of life could come together to learn about money and prepare for their financial future, to remove feelings of financial vulnerability from their lives. 

    I did a lot of research. I talked to experts in the financial industry and experts in the education field. Through focus groups, I discovered that countless women are looking for a place where they can feel comfortable asking questions without fear of being judged, where they can learn from women asking questions they’d never thought about, and where they can how to be financially savvy without fear that they’re going to be hit with a big sales pitch.

    From my years as a training consultant and corporate educator, I know that many financial services professionals are missing the boat in their dealings with women.

    Women have told me, and the data supports, that women are not comfortable asking questions of insurance and financial professionals. Their experiences have not always been positive. They feel dismissed and don’t feel they are in a comfortable place to ask questions.  And yet, women are a 14 trillion dollar market!

    I am a true believer in the products and services provided by these professionals.  Women need proper insurance.  Women need to invest their moneys so they are ready for retirement.  Women need a plan they can understand and engage in that will make them feel financially fearless when it comes to their retirement.  But, the insurance and financial industries need to learn how to serve these women and earn their dollars.

    We want our community of women to surround themselves with a talented and thoughtful team of the financial advisors and insurance associates, so we’ve started working with local financial services professionals to teach them how to they can better serve our community.

    We look for things like flexibility, empathy, creativity, strategy, and their work style. When a service provider passes our qualifications, they become Purse Strings Approved, which means that they are perfectly equipped to serve our diverse community of women.

    Women who want to take charge of their financial future are invited to join Purse Strings at www.pursestrings.co.

    Insurance and financial providers who are ready to be Purse Strings Approved can take the first step by registering for our upcoming What Women Want event on April 27th in Grayslake

    Join me on this journey!


    Live Boldly,

    Barbara

    Barbara Provost,
    Purse Strings/Founder & CEO
    March 2016


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Mail us:  833 N Clark Street, Apartment 1205, Chicago IL  60610

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