For many people, money is difficult to talk about and investing is scary. Once the decision has been made to start investing for the future, it can be hard to find reliable and easy-to-understand resources without paying for a financial advisor. In order to eventually retire, nearly everyone will have to find the courage to invest. Tori Dunlap founded “Her First $100k” to fill this very gap: Helping everyday people, especially women, to get on the path to financial freedom.
Discussing topics that are uncomfortable or even foreign for so many people, making them easily understandable, and having a passion to help others are just a few of the reasons Dunlap has been so successful. As she says: “I was put on this Earth to fight for women’s financial rights. I’m here to help you make what you’re worth, build wealth, and fight the patriarchy. Because a financial education is the best weapon we’ve got.” Dunlap’s message has found a receptive market with research showing that women may be better investors than men, though neither appear to be aware of the disparity.
The name? Dunlap began her company as a blog in 2016 that documented her journey to saving $100,000 at 25 and sought to help others do the same. In 2021, Her First $100k grossed more than $3.4 million, and has now been featured in The New York Times, Business Insider, Forbes, and many more publications. Dunlap’s new book, Financial Feminist, is increasing her reach even more by, as she writes, “giving you the money talk I wish they taught in school.”
Confronting a ‘Taboo’ Topic
Many teenagers graduate high school without having taken any kind of finance, budgeting, or investing class. According to NGPF’s 2022 State of Financial Education Report, only 22.7% of high school students who graduated in 2022 took a personal finance course. So to be one of the many who didn’t get a financial education in school, and then not learn about budgeting, saving, or investing at home, can make it incredibly difficult to become a financially responsible adult.
This is where Her First $100k came in, openly talking and teaching about money, savings, budgeting, investing, and even job interviews. Topics that so few people feel comfortable bringing up, but that so desperately need to be discussed. “I’m talking about a very taboo topic,” Dunlap says. “We’re more likely to talk about sex, religion, politics — anything before money.”
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Dunlap is all about helping women overcome gender bias to level the financial (and workplace) playing field — and her podcast, “Financial Feminist,” and newly released book are amplifying her voice. Being outspoken has amassed Dunlap a social media following of more than 3 million people. “It’s incredible what ends up happening in every aspect of somebody’s life when they are financially stable,” she said in an interview with NerdWallet.
However, while her company’s core demographic is women, Dunlap’s approach is designed to help everyone prosper. “If we can use money as a tool to build a life that we love, we can use money as a tool to build a better society for everybody,” she told the Earn & Invest podcast. “And we can rebuild and readjust so that this is not just an equal society, but it’s an equitable one.”
Real Tools and Resources
Arguably the most significant reason Her First $100k has become such a valuable resource is the company confronts a scary subject and holds its followers’ hands through the process. Rather than churning out dry and overly technical content, everything is put in lay terms. The advice is easy to understand for anyone who doesn’t have a financial background, and Dunlap keeps it fun and lighthearted to undercut any intimidation.
“I’ve seen, even on a micro scale, what happens when you give women actionable resources and financial guidance in a non-judgmental, safe space. Everything changes,” Dunlap says. Her $100k has diversified its content and offers a wide variety of resources: Budgeting spreadsheets, job interview tips, and even scripts for negotiating a higher salary. The company makes it as easy as possible to do something with that information, including saying exactly what needs to be said to negotiate lower monthly bills.
Much of the content and many of the basic resources are free. Of course, there are paid packages for some of the resources. Her $100k offers workshops, has its own investing and education platform, and Dunlap herself sits down with paying clients and walks them through making their first investment.
Past Success and Future Promise
Investing hard-earned money in some intangible “market” can be daunting for many people, and Her First $100k has figured out how to make it realistic for anyone who is willing to put in just a bit of time. One of the main points Her First $100k emphasizes is that it doesn’t take a ton of money to start investing — even as little as $20. Dunlap does everything possible to remove the barriers, myths, and fear so that everyone can get started.
“I’ve helped over three million badass women make more, spend less, and feel financially confident,” Dunlap says. “Because having a financial education is a woman’s best form of protest.” Given her drive to continue helping others find financial freedom, it’s exciting to think what may be in store for Her First $100k in the next few years.