Lola: A money conference for women.

Women are earning more and taking more responsibility for managing money, but a majority of us aren’t confident about our choices.

According to the Allianz Women, Money and Power Study, six in 10 (61 percent) women wish they had more confidence in their financial choices. Almost two-thirds (63 percent) wish they knew more about investing and financial planning.

Personal finance blogger Melanie Lockert wants to help. Or, rather, she wants to encourage women to help themselves. The upcoming Lola Retreat will be a place where women can talk openly about money: how to earn it, save it, invest it and enjoy it.


“We want to break down those barriers that make money taboo and scary, and really create a community of financially empowered women,” says conference co-founder Lockert, a personal finance blogger and author of “Dear Debt: A Story About Breaking Up With Debt.”


The Lola Retreat takes place Aug. 18-20 in Portland, Oregon. Its four core concepts are love and money, investing, the money mindset and earning more. Attendees will learn from workshops, meet-ups with financial professionals and networking with other women.

Regular tickets are $399 and VIP tickets are $499; all programming and most food are included. Save a hundred bucks by registering before April 14 with the code LOLAWANTS, at LolaRetreatcom. Scholarships are available; use this link by May 1 to apply for one.


Why don’t we talk about money?

A proliferation of PF blogs, books and podcasts has brought money out of the closet. People write openly about salaries, side hustles, debt paydown, credit hacks and retirement strategies.

Yet it’s still a hush-hush topic for many women, who were brought up thinking that it’s impolite to talk about money. Or who absorbed other female financial shibboleths:

  • That we aren’t “good” with money
  • That it’s more important to focus on family needs
  • That it’s somehow unfeminine to talk about wealth-building
  • That those who want to earn more might be seen as “pushy” (did you hear about the woman whose follow-up job interview was canceled once she asked about pay and benefits?)

That Allianz study indicates that 58 percent of women believe they’re more financially savvy than spouses or partners, and 67 percent say that learning more about financial management improved their lives.

Yet as noted above, they’re still not comfortable with their choices. Two-thirds of those surveyed felt overwhelmed at times by investment options. The study also noted that paying for health insurance and running out of money in retirement are huge stressors for women.

“Not investing at all, or enough” is one of the major issues that Lockert sees, and one which the Lola Retreat will address.

“It’s vitally important that women invest and let their money work as hard as they do,” she says.


Deep-seated money issues

Shortly after I heard about the Lola Retreat I got a copy of “Worth It: Your Life, Your Money, Your Terms,” by Daily Worth founder Amanda Steinberg. The author, like Lockert, wants to give women the tools they need to build success and stability when it comes to cash.

“Women pretty much define the U.S. economy now,” Steinberg notes.

But she also points out a dirty little secret: that women still lag behind men in the amount of earning power, savings and wealth.

“Women have more control over money than ever before. And we still have nowhere near enough,” Steinberg writes.

Here’s my dirty little secret: My initial reaction to that statement was, “Well, how much more do we need?” Not in a philosophical, money-can’t-buy-happiness way, though. It was a gut response that to want to make more than men would be unseemly. Pushy. Greedy.

And that just plain horrified me, especially since Steinberg hadn’t even said we should make more than men. She simply wrote that we aren’t making (and saving, and investing) enough.

Although I’m an intelligent woman and I write about money for a living, I’m also a woman of a certain age who was raised not to talk about money and who was raised in a culture that looked down on women who stood up for themselves.

Ostensibly I want what’s best for my daughter and for all women. Yet some financial bogeyman still has its hooks in me. Specifically, it’s telling me not to want too much.

That shit needs to change, which is why I’m recommending that anyone who can go to the Lola Retreat should go to the Lola Retreat. Or at least to read Lockert’s and/or Steinberg’s book and/or anything by Liz Weston, Beverly Harzog, Mary Hunt, Beth Kobliner, Jean Chatzky or any PF writer who isn’t hobbled by the idea that money is not a woman’s business.

It is our business. Let’s get to it. Hope to see you in Portland.


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  1. Lake Livin'

    I’m definitely surprised by your gut reaction. It just goes to show how deeply rooted things we’re programmed to think as children take hold, despite all of our lifelong learning and growing.

    • Donna Freedman

      Me too! I couldn’t believe what my jerk-brain told me. Fortunately, the rational brain was able to recognize it for what it was — old habits that truly do die hard — and start me thinking about the issue.

      Hope to see you while I’m at FinCon17 in Dallas.

  2. Oooh, I heard of this conference briefly several months ago. I looove that there’s a conference just for women. Hoping to see a lot of great collaboration come out of it. 🙂

  3. Nice to have you back and writing!! I missed your blogs entries. I can’t go to the Lola retreat, but I can read those books. I am also of a certain age and both my DH and I have a hard time talking about money to anyone else. We all need expert advice now and then. Thank you for a great piece. I love reading your work and appreciate your honesty.

  4. I don’t talk about money for the same reason I don’t talk about age and weight. Humiliation!

  5. WubbWeb

    Personally I am tired of events geared toward women, be it seminars, conferences or marches and I am especially weary of those that seem to continually portray women as victims of men. If women want to learn about investing and finances, why does it have to be at a seminar just for women? Are the leaders of this conference actually perpetuating division and disunity while trying to make a buck? As a female CFO and Chairperson of the Board of a 300 million dollar company, I was invited to attend a large “Women in Leadership” conference a few years back. The level of man-bashing that occurred was offensive to me. I have been surrounded by wonderful male co-workers for more than 30 years. I also didn’t appreciate being told that I owe it to other women to help bring them along in the business world and basically favor them over men just because they are women. The conference leadership was dominated by some “man-haters” in their mid 50s and 60s with an obvious ax to grind, and I could tell that quite a few women in attendance were uncomfortable with the undertones, but they didn’t dare disagree with their leadership. Hopefully this conference will take a different approach. If we want to empower any group, we need to quit treating them as though they are victims and we need to stop blaming others for our issues. Also, unlike you, I am the mother of sons and a daughter, and I am concerned about the future of all my young adult children. From my perspective, my daughters possibilities are endless yet my sons are encountering roadblocks merely because they are men. I believe recent statistics also support that young women graduating from college are now making more than their male counterparts. It is a different world for women than it was 30 years ago, and for women to keep focusing on their apparent lack of rights and victim status in a country where their opportunities are endless is embarrassing. Perhaps it is time to have special seminars for men only telling them how to succeed in what now appears to be a women’s world where everything wrong in the world if the fault of men.

    • Donna Freedman

      I don’t believe the focus of this conference is that men are the enemy and women are oppressed.

    • Thanks so much for your feedback! We’re definitely not into men-bashing at all. We want to create a space where women can talk about our unique money issues. We are taking an empowerment approach, NOT a victim approach.

  6. A Reader

    I don’t think women have unique money issues; it’s not like we are a different species than men, and American women and men earn money with equal opportunity in the USA. I agree with WubbWeb’s comment. I also learned that sisterhood is not global: women don’t treat other women well in general. In fact, there is a lot of backstabbing among women in business as a form of competition. I’ll never forget one of my coworkers who told me she was going to climb over me up the corporate ladder! Nice! I follow your blog because you have intelligent observations, not because you are a woman. The quality of the information is key, not the sex of the person who came up with it!

    • Donna Freedman

      I respectfully disagree. Women live longer, which means they need to plan retirement funds accordingly. They also still earn less and tend to take more time off during their working years to care for children and/or aging relatives, which means they are likely to put less into Social Security.

      Some women don’t treat others well “in general.” I’ve been lucky to have worked and associated with women who mentor, encourage and even offer physical assistance when warranted. As for the workplace, backstabbing is not practiced solely by women. The image of the cutthroat businessman is based on very real tactics; in fact, men are praised for being ruthless.

    • WubbWeb

      I am trying to imagine the negative press that would be received if someone was advertising “A Money Conference for Men.” Women would be the first to cry foul and label the conference as sexist and discriminatory. And it isn’t that I don’t agree that there might be differences in money issues between men and women as is true that women live longer. What I don’t agree with is the idea that women have been “victims” and thus are entitled to something or another.

      After more than 30 years of working in a professional environment, I haven’t come across any “ruthless” men as of yet. Could this be a stereotype perpetuated by Hollywood and/or women? And I have found that both men and women seem to gossip/backstab at an equal level. The only generalization I would be willing to make is that, from my experience, women employees in general seem to be less happy, more moody, less grateful and they complain more often.

      • Donna Freedman

        Or perhaps it could be that you simply haven’t run into any ruthless men. Just because you’ve never encountered any personally doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

        I just read a workplace-issues column about a computer services company that lost a major client due to poor service by an employee during an emergency. It turned out that the employee in question wasn’t even working that day; a co-worker who wanted to move up in the company took the emergency call, identified himself as the other guy and proceeded to do nothing to fix the problem, with the idea that the other guy would get fired and he would be able to advance. That would qualify as ruthless, I think.

        Again, this particular conference isn’t about painting women as victims. It’s designed to encourage them to take charge of their finances.

  7. WubbWeb

    And I have read one or two well publicized stories of a few cops who, when put in life or death situations, pulled the trigger and killed an innocent person. But I don’t buy into the media’s hype that is the cops are the route cause of the problem.

    • Donna Freedman

      I don’t think we’re talking about the same thing, here. My own feeling is that there are more good police than bad ones, but that the bad ones do exist. Ditto for ruthless and/or backstabbing businessmen.

  8. Just posting to say I find the MMM Forums to be a constant source of inspiration. The focus is on reaching FIRE, not on gender. I find it highly refreshing. Now that I am Financially Independent and Retired Early, I stick around to encourage others. Since many screen names are neutral, I’m often unsure of anyone’s gender, which is really irrelevant. We all have different paths and challenges along life’s great journey.

    • Donna Freedman

      I agree that we have different paths and challenges. The point of the conference is to get women more interested and involved in their own financial planning. This knowledge will let them make the best choices for their potential challenges.

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