Celebrating Moms in Business & Finance

Denise Winston

Financial Expert and Author

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What is your background, and how did you get into finance?

I lived on my own since I was 16 and was dealing with money in everyday ways from a young age. I learned that one way to harness that knowledge was to go into finance. I started as a teller, then became a manager, then a business relationship manager. In these positions I was exposed to the street-smart side of finances as well as the industry as a whole. I spent 25 years as a banker and resigned from Chase in April of ’09. At that point, I decided to set out and see how I could provide relevant real world content to others. That’s when I founded my company – Money Start Here.

Were you successful initially, or did you have problems at first? How did you keep motivated and pushing forward?

When you’re young and you have little financial experience, it’s hard to talk about products and services. We don’t teach money as a life skill, so that was a challenge going into the industry to begin with. The more I personally dealt with financial products and systems, the more it allowed me to speak intelligently and make recommendations to others. By 27, I was managing others’ money, which was tricky. I was young, advising people much older than myself.

I persevered by staying focused and keeping my goals in mind. Dressing and acting the part I wanted instead of the part that I had really helped me succeed at a quick pace.

Do you have any secrets for balancing being a mom with being a great investor/trader?

As I got older, I realized I was doing my daughter a disservice by “doing” for her all the time. I was unintentionally robbing her of life skills that I hold near and dear (like budgeting, paying bills, etc). Understanding my role as a mother and what my true job was allowed me to provide my daughter with an education that has helped her survive in the real world. That was the secret. Having that aha moment where I understood my role as a mom. I began to involve my daughter in as many conversations and experiences as possible. I taught her to understand the value of an hour of her time. Spend it, waste it, or invest it.

What advice would you give to a busy mom who is interested in learning how to trade stocks?

Understand that everybody has to deal with money. You’ve been doing it a long time, so give yourself some credit. We all know something about money. When you learn something, you get the compound effect (just like with interest!). You learn something, and it builds on what you already know. We all start at the ground level, so I’d say – be patient. Allow yourself some time to gain experience. When you make a mistake, learn from it. Find a mentor, a group to share experiences with, someone who’s done it before you. Start at the bottom and work your way up so you can really learn the challenges and rewards of each position.

What keeps you going and motivated?

My desire to help. I strongly want to have an impact and change lives. For me, to be able to see my results and quantify the number of people I’ve been able to help and inspire and empower and encourage. – that’s what keeps me going. Also, those proud mommy moments. When my daughter texts me a copy of her 401K statement, for example, it reminds me that financial education has paid off. All the effort of teaching money as a life skill has helped my daughter with her quality of life. This is the ultimate motivation.

Can you share a little about your family with us?

I’m married to Mr. Wonderful. We have a great life. We are healthy, happy, and active. It’s important for us to find ways to contribute in meaningful ways to charity. We’re very frugal in some ways, which lets us contribute in others. It’s our belief that we should use our passions for a purpose. I have one wonderful, financially independent daughter. Being a parent can be thankless when kids are young, but as they grow up, it’s very gratifying. Lots of proud mommy moments.

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