Things That Matter

We Earn Less Than Men, We Lose Income As Caregivers And That’s Why This Latina Gives Financial Advice To WOC

For a long time, finance was considered a boys’ club that only allowed old, grey-haired men in. But for women who largely head households and outlive men, monetary savvy is a necessity we can no longer afford to pass over. In Los Angeles, financial planner Brittney Castro, CFP®, is ensuring that women of all walks of life have the money wits they need and deserve.

At Financially Wise, Inc., the boutique financial planning firm Castro founded in 2013, the biracial Mexican-American offers holistic and comprehensive financial and investment planning for individuals, couples and businesses, with a special aim for women to get their money right. 

“A big thing for me, in the beginning, was to make [financial advice] more accessible, not just for high-network clients. Everyone needs a financial plan to pay for life and goals,” Castro, who says she speaks with clients as if they were friends, in a “fun, personal, compassionate, relatable and nonjudgmental way,” told FIERCE.

In addition to her fee-only financial planning, the 35-year-old CEO also provides online money courses, financial wellness workshops, speaking engagements and brand partnerships. 

Unlike many others in her field, Castro wasn’t raised by entrepreneurial parents, so she understands firsthand how intimidating finances can be. In fact, she entered the industry because she wanted to help communities like her own, everyday people with finance fears, all while being her own boss and making a lofty income herself.

Starting in the corporate world, she loved the change she was making in people’s lives: educating them, helping build confidence in themselves and their pursuits as well as co-creating futures where clients weren’t just secure but thriving.

Still, the long workdays and benevolent sexism of the industry took its toll on the young career woman.

“I stuck out like a sore thumb, which used to bother me a lot,” she said. “There have been so many times in my career when I was talked down to or judged.”

After five years working for a large company, Castro decided to quit and enter independent financial planning, where she’d have more control over her hours and less interaction with condescending bros. 

At the time, blogs were in bloom and social media was on the come-up, and Castro, knowing the troubles of being a woman in money, saw a niche that wasn’t being targeted: women. She started writing and speaking publicly about gender and capital, quickly seeing the benefits of the identities she was previously made to feel insecure about.

“I now think it’s an advantage that I’m a woman, Latina, young and in finance,” said Castro, whose insight on the topic can be found in outlets like Entrepreneur, CNN, CNBC, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Glamour, Elle, Marie Claire and more. “People need me. This is America. I’m the new face, the new generation, so now I see it as a strength.”

Her biggest goal is to demystify finance so that it’s approachable for everyday people who fear all things dinero, and that typically comprises women, especially women of color. This demographic, Castro says, often feels unseen and unheard, and she doesn’t want to perpetuate those feelings and experiences in her office. Knowing the fears, insecurities and emotions that come with money talk, she creates a space where women feel safe to open up.

Courtesy of Brittney Castro

“It’s never just money — it’s our lives, our fears, our wants. So it’s important for me to give women another place to come to where they can feel heard and get the help they want and deserve,” she said.

Once she and her client work through the sentimental blockages, she then breaks down why it’s totally essential for women, especially, to be financially literate and in control of their coins: We live longer than men. Nine of 10 women will be in charge of their finances at some point in their lives. We still earn less than men. We lose income when taking care of children and elders. And the list, she says, goes on.

“There are a lot of challenges, which makes learning about money more necessary,” Castro contends. “While current women’s movements are helping, by making it easier for us or creating more awareness around issues we experience, we, as individuals, still need to decide to dive in and make decisions on our finances.”

For those who are interested but don’t know where to begin or feel like they don’t have the time or cash flow to get started, Castro urges to be abandon self-doubt and just embark on the journey.

To start, Castro offers a few beginner steps.

Know your budget.

This includes all the money coming in and going out of your bank accounts.

Consider how your current budget is working. This will help you spot if you are running short and allow you to identify areas where you might be wasting money that you could actually be saving. “Maybe you need to make more or cut back, but you have to find a way to save money. We all do. But you have to start with your budget,” she said.

Set up automatic systems that will save you money.

There are a few ways to do this. Paychecks that are made via direct deposit, for instance, can automatically go into different accounts, including savings, 401(k)s, investments, employee stock purchase plans and health savings. Automating recurring bills as well as putting credit cards on autopay could also help.

“It’s almost impossible to save money if you have no automatic system that is taking money out of your account. It’s torture to do it any other way. If you see it, you will spend it. Just to be safe, set up an automatic savings plan,” she says.

Learn how to invest.

Learn the language, don’t take risks that will lose you money and expect it to be a lifelong, ever-changing journey.

Whether through a class or a book, educate yourself on investment, in the stock market and in real estate.

“I’ve been doing this for 13 years, and I still learn something new all the time,” she said. “Things change. Technology changes. Products change. There are investments that are right for you and then something comes that’s better, so you have to be willing to make a change.”

Be gentle, yet assertive with your financial goals.

Castro emphasizes that it takes courage, willpower and commitment to follow through on your strategy, which isn’t always easy to maintain.

To help, Castro recommends finding a trusted partner who can help you stay accountable and on track. “Stay motivated and hang in there,” she says. “You’re never alone. We all have the same money goals and challenges, so it’s nice to find somebody you trust that can go through this financial journey with you.”

Once we start paying closer attention to our money and making healthier financial decisions, Castro affirms that we will begin seeing benefits in other aspects of our lives. Think about it: when we aren’t stressing about money, we can think more clearly and spend more of our time enjoying life and those around us. It’s a win all around, and it’s one that is in our hands.

“People fear finances, but it’s actually so empowering when you have it in order,” she says.

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El Pollo Loco Creates Hispanic Heritage Month Grant To Support Latina Small Businesses

Fierce

El Pollo Loco Creates Hispanic Heritage Month Grant To Support Latina Small Businesses

Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Covid-19 has devastated millions of Americans with job loss. Unemployment skyrocketed as the federal government failed to create and execute a plan to combat the pandemic. El Pollo Loco is stepping up and giving our community a chance to keep business doors open and community members employed.

El Pollo Loco is giving Latina business owners in the greater Los Angeles area a lifeline in these uncertain times.

The Latino community is the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs and business owners in the U.S. According to a Stanford University study, Latino business owners grew 34 percent while every other demographic grew 1 percent over the last ten years.

However, Covid has changed things. Latina-owned business are some of the hardest hit and the sudden loss is impacting our community. According to the Pew Research Center, Latinas experienced a -21 percent change in small business ownership and jobs since the Covid downturn.

El Pollo Loco is offering $100,000 in grants to different Latina-owned businesses because of the pandemic.

The fast food chain has started a GoFundMe to keep the donations going. El Pollo Loco has already pledged $100,000 to help Latina small businesses and the GoFundMe promises to keep the donations flowing. For every $10,000 raised in the GoFundMe, El Pollo Loco will donate it to a Latina small business. The GoFundMe has raised over $100,000 at the time of this post.

#WeAllGrow Latina partnered with El Pollo Loco to give Latina business owners this lifeline.

#WeAllGrow Latina and El Pollo Loco are asking the Latino community to help find Latina small businesses that deserve the grants. Instead of making the decision themselves, #WeAllGrow Latina and El Pollo Loco want you to nominate your favorite Latina small business for the grant.

“This year has been unlike any other, leaving Latina-owned businesses disproportionately impacted,” Bernard Acoca, President and Chief Executive Officer of El Pollo Loco, said in a statement. “Given the critical role brands are expected to play during the pandemic and on the heels of Hispanic Heritage Month, we felt compelled to find a way to support the people and city we call home.”

In order to nominate a business, here is what you have to do.

Credit: weallgrowlatina.com/fundlatinafoodjefas

Using social media, nominate your favorite LA-based Latina small business and tag @elpolloloco and @weallgrowlatina while using #grantcontest and #FundLatinaFoodJefas. You can nominate the business up to five times.

People are already nominating their favorite food places in LA.

You have until Sept. 15 to nominate your favorite Latina small business. You can help them win $10,000 and mentorship from El Pollo Loco to help Latina business owners in LA keep their doors open. You can learn more here.

READ: California Is Poised To Become The First State To Offer Unemployment To Undocumented Workers

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How ‘Latinx With Plants’ Bloomed From Instagram To An L.A. Shop Reconnecting The Gente To Plant Healing Properties

Fierce

How ‘Latinx With Plants’ Bloomed From Instagram To An L.A. Shop Reconnecting The Gente To Plant Healing Properties

Growing up, Andi Xoch’s aunt encouraged her to speak to plants. Her relatives usually laughed at the sight of a woman talking to her in-house flowers, but Xoch was intrigued. As a little girl, she acknowledged that there was life inside the pots, so conversing with them seemed standard. More than two decades later, that seed of curiosity about flora bloomed into Latinx with Plants, a digital community and IRL Los Angeles-based shop that teaches Latinxs of their ancestral relationship with herbage.

Sprouted in the spring of 2019, Latinx with Plants started as an account on Instagram. Through the page, Xoch wanted to provide representation of Latinx plant parents that she felt was lacking despite the community’s deep and vast connection with herbs and gardening.

“We’ve had a long connection with plants even before the trend started,” Xoch, a Mexico City-born, L.A.-raised organizer and artist, tells FIERCE.

“I wanted to represent that, to show that we’ve been part of this world even if it’s not presented in an Instagrammable form.”

For the past few years, so-called plant porn has dominated Instagram content. With hashtags like #plantgang and #urbanjungles, the growing trend has helped produce a new generation of young people with green fingers that are boosting sales of houseplants and inspiring even the basement recluse to be a plant parent. In fact, a National Gardening report found that 83 percent of the people in the U.S. who took up gardening in 2016 were between the ages of 18 and 34. Even more, it reported that 37 percent of millennials grow herbs and plants indoors, more than the 28 percent of baby boomers who do the same.

However, with the exception of a few accounts, including Xoch’s friend D’Real who created @blackwithplants and inspired her to make a similar account, many of these digital spaces are overwhelmingly white. This, Xoch says, ignores the history Latinxs have with plants and the sustainable practices they developed while gardening for decades.

“You walk onto our people’s front yards and you see their food: plantains, avocados [and] chayotes. And it’s all sustainable; they use pots made out of buckets and cans. It’s beautiful,” the 32-year-old says. “This is who we are. This is our culture.”

As Latinxs, Xoch says that our Indigenous roots have been forgotten or intentionally kept from us but that we can reconnect to our origins through inherited practices. Among them is ancestral medicines. At her shop, several elders come in and casually inform Xoch about the healing properties of her different plants. While the whitewashed mainstream plant blogosphere has co-opted much of the everyday traditions practiced within low-income communities of color, she finds comfort in knowing that these remedies are being passed down across generations through word of mouth and are not being commodified. 

These informal educational encounters is one of the reasons why Xoch established her brick and mortar in August. Aside from selling an array of plants at the Boyle Heights-located shop, she wanted to create a space where new plant parents and señora gardeners can enter and feel welcomed, experience the joyous power of verdure and learn from one another. 

She says that her mission is to build community and help people who feel depressed, anxious and alone, particularly amid the Covid-19 pandemic, experience the healing power of plants.

“Plants can be an asset to you because, whether you think it’s just for the plant’s sake to be alive, you are actually participating in a self-care act by nurturing your plant,” Xoch says. “They force you to get up every day and help you realize a lot of beautiful things about yourself that you forget to acknowledge: the caregiving, the attention, the love, the dancing, the singing — all the things that make it bloom are also exercises in self-love, self-care and self-preservation.” 

A newbie business owner, Xoch says she now has another objective, though: to offer a non-traditional example of success and to be honest about the struggles of entrepreneurship. 

On paper, Xoch’s road to becoming a boss seems swift and simple: She learned the location of a potential property on a Sunday, visited it on Monday, signed her lease on Wednesday and opened up shop the following weekend. However, the reality is much more complicated. A high school dropout, her lifelong dream to open a business was halted because she lacked the confidence, capital and connections to get started. Even when she did launch the store, the experience was far from easy. Xoch opened her small business from the ground up on a tight budget amid a pandemic and while her father sat ill at a hospital where doctors thought he would die.

“I want people to know this is real shit that people go through. We have the load of the world on us, we are caring for our relatives and we are trying to make sure our business is doing well,” she says. “I walk in [my store] and that alone is defying the odds.”


Follow Latinx with Plants on Instagram. For those in Los Angeles, visit the shop, which is complying with Covid-19 regulations and operating by appointment only, at 2117 E Cesar Chavez Ave.

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