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Consumer Blog

Celebrating Women’s History Month 2023

March 7, 2023 8:42 am

Women's History Month 2023This month, we’re visiting with credit union professionals across the state to find out how they’re celebrating Women’s History Month. Join us by following along all month and by submitting your own story.


Q: How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that look like to you?
by Darci Parsons, President/CEO, Ravalli County FCU

A: As a female CEO, I believe it is so important for all women to lift each other up. I grew up with a core group of female friends who listened to each other, offered encouragement, commiserated over failures, and celebrated accomplishments. I am still friends with these same women today. I try to apply the same fundamentals that were established when I was younger with the women who work for me and my other female peers. How do we life each other up? We should encourage each other to set short-term and long-term goals. Provide honest feedback and have open communication. Champion career advancement and be willing to write letters of recommendation when advancement presents itself. Mentor women who would like to grow in their career.  Volunteer in our communities and motivate other women to also volunteer. Urge women to negotiate wages if they feel that they are not being compensated properly. Last but not least, join the Women’s Community that we have established so we can work together to lift each other up!


Q: If you could tell your younger self one thing about budgeting/finances/money, what would it be?
by Jaynie Haynie, Loan Officer, Grasslands FCU

A: If I could go back, I would tell myself to do more research on taking out student loans. As a high school senior, I did not educate myself enough on the “true cost” of borrowing for school. It was pretty easy to go into the advisor’s office and sign up for student aid — a lot of times — not considering how I was going to pay these loans back in the future. I would tell my younger self to start budgeting earlier and save more for school.


Q: Who was a female role model you had growing up?
by Shiloh Smeltzer, Manager, Badlands FCU

A: My Grandmother, Eula Willford, was a huge role model for me growing up. My grandmother married my grandfather when she was 18 years old and moved with him to his family’s ranch. Together they worked the ranch and had four children. My grandfather served in the Army in WWII and left my grandmother and their children to run the ranch in his absence. He died in 1976 and my grandmother never thought twice about selling the ranch. She just rolled up her sleeves and worked the ranch alongside her children. Whether it was getting up at 4:00 am to go milk the cows or cook lunch for 15 people when it was branding or haying season, you never heard her complain. In the early ’80s my grandmother opted to sell what cows she had left and switched over to pasturing cows during the summer months, allowing her to move to town during the winter months. When I was little, she would come and help my mom feed our cows during the winter, and we would walk from the feed trail to the water hole every day, an extra special adventure for just her and me. She continued to spend her summers at the ranch fixing fence, irrigating, dragging, and checking the pasture cows. She never complained that she didn’t have someone to help her shoulder the load, she just did what needed to be done. She finally had to call ranch life quits in 2018 when dementia set in and being alone at the ranch was no longer an option. We lost her in January 2020, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss her and thank her for showing me what it takes to be a strong and independent woman.


Q: If you could tell your younger self one thing about budgeting/finances/money, what would it be?
by Katelyn Kotka, Assistant Branch Manager, Clearwater CU

A: I would tell my younger self to start learning and understanding the difference between wants and needs. The amount of money spent on wants can easily add up in a savings account for a goal, larger purchase, or retirement. Giving yourself an allowance and learning to budget will be one of the most helpful items to learn as you grow older.


Q: How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that look like to you?
by Kristy Tate, President/CEO, Mile High FCU

A: As a very young female when starting my career, I found it very beneficial to surround myself with like-minded individuals. We encouraged one another to set goals to achieve and would brainstorm ideas of how to achieve and advance ourselves.  It was important to not only be able to celebrate the wins, but knowing you had a support group when times were tough. As a CEO, I feel being able to support the women in my staff to set goals, small or large, at work or in their personal lives to lift others up. Touching base with them from time to time, letting them know you want them to achieve their goal just as bad as they do. When they ask for support, be present. Give them resources and knowledge to help them achieve their goals. The Women’s Community is a fabulous resource for women to gather, collaborate and support each other in working together to achieve whatever goal they may have.


Q: If you could tell your younger self one thing about budgeting/finances/money, what would it be?
by Laci Rose, CFO, Ravalli County FCU

A: I would tell my younger self to “start early and save often.” I started contributing to my 401k as soon as I could however I did not max it out. Looking back on it, because I was going to school, an extra $20-$30 out of my check a month would not have made that much of a difference. I didn’t start contributing a full 5% until well into my mid 20’s. So I would definitely tell my younger self to take the risk and invest in yourself. I would also tell myself to “save for a rainy day” and in different accounts. My younger self did not have a cushion, so I found myself taking out a loan. What needed to happen is sub accounts set up for my different expenses and that way I knew that specific money was allotted to that item. I am stingy with money and it is hard for me to spend my savings. Even to this day, when things come up I don’t really want to spend it, whether I have it or not.


Q: Why is it important for young ladies to learn about finances?
by Sara Zeier, Branch Manager, Clearwater CU

A: It is important for young ladies to learn about finances early on for a variety of reasons.  That knowledge means we can do things like avoid credit card debt, keep accounts in good standings, manage a budget/income, and plan for the future.  Historically, that knowledge has been afforded to men.  For years they were head of household and made those decisions.  Times have changed and that knowledge is vital for women to not only survive but to thrive!

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