In this interview series, we want to feature cool and inspiring women from all corners of the world to learn about their financial reality as well as how they navigate sustainability. Our goal is to showcase a breadth of values and practices, and how young women handle the challenges of our time.
Meet Isabella, a sustainability enthusiast based in San Francisco Bay Area. Originally from Germany, Isabella has lived in an envious list of countries including Jamaica, Mexico, Italy and the Netherlands. Working as a behavioral data scientist for a robo advisor (digital wealth management company), and with a master's degree in Business, we were intrigued to hear how she's managing her money and her thoughts on Instagram's effect on consumer spending.
What does sustainability mean to you?
To me sustainability describes the concept of handling resources with a long-term mindset, in a responsible, calculated and non-decadent way. It's about thinking beyond ‘tomorrow’ and aiming to prolong the life span and with that the pleasure and enjoyment of these resources. I certainly sympathize with this approach and especially support and advocate the notion of sustainability when it comes to the environment. ..key word ‘resources’.. sustainability simply makes sense, or not?
(Why) is money important?
Talking about resources, money is one big resource in itself. We need it to manage living in a big and constantly growing society and - from a more micro-level perspective - money is important to fulfill many of our individual needs and desires. So: yes, money is important. And to those critical readers out there: money can maybe not buy happiness, but to a certain extent it can move us up the Maslow's hierarchy of needs which doesn’t mean that money takes away our daily worries, but shifts and exchange them with others. That's something at least ;).
What is your saving/investment/money strategy?
I guess you could describe it as a quite sustainable one. With income it is of course easier to not spend money that you didn’t earn and I stick to the principles of avoiding taking credits. Generally, I consider myself a quality- (rather than a quantity-) consumer, which means that I enjoy good music, good food, outdoor activities and like to think that I “invest in experiences”. Since I like to optimize things, I track my spending and if I see too much of it is going somewhere I don’t think its worth spending that much money on I can take action. On the investment strategy side of things I believe that having too much money sitting around in an account is a waste of opportunities. If you work hard, let the money work hard too - however, this is a very individual thing, its very important to know your comfort zone and to always have some months of cash available for emergencies.
(How) do you think Instagram affects our consumer behaviour and spending?
This is not an easy question to answer because marketing is extremely powerful on a subconscious level. My first reaction to this question was: No, I rarely even use Instagram, I am not affected at all. Being realistic though I am sure that I'm also a victim of Instagram's tailored ads! Its convenient and (as the lazy shopper who I am) I like when cool stuff that I could actually need shows up. But its a two-sided coin, at the same time I still find it quite scary and question whether I should question how well ’they’ know me...
What's the most important thing you've learned from your mum?
My mom is this super woman who convinced a man to raise 5 weird kids with her … she definitely proved to me the importance of finding a partner who’s idea of life is compatible to yours (- and/or how important persuasion skills are!!)