Priya Malani is an entrepreneur and founding partner at STASH Wealth, the modern financial planning firm for so-called H.E.N.R.Y.s, or High Earners, Not Rich Yet. These are individuals who have been largely neglected by Wall Street, but are, as STASH writes on their website: “fun, fabulous and on the fast-track to financial freedom”

Priya is not only fabulous looking herself in her high stilettos with red bottoms, she is also extremely smart and ambitious. She started her career on Wall Street, working for Merrill Lynch, and now, besides STASH, she serves as resident financial expert for Refinery 29. Furthermore, she has appeared and shared her knowledge on various sites, such as Girlboss, SHAPE, CNBC and Forbes.

With an unconventional and straightforward approach to investing, Priya provided me with answers to what mistakes Millennials make when investing and how they can become better and smarter investors.

At STASH, you help Millennials become smarter investors. Can you explain how STASH reaches this goal? 

That’s a million-dollar question. Luckily, it has a very simple answer: through education.

Unfortunately, Wall Street has done a horrible job of portraying investing. Buying and selling stocks, dramatic swings in the market, chasing returns, hardworking people “losing” their life savings – this is how Wall Street portrays investing. However, none of that actually describes investing – it describes gambling. And the truth is, a lot of clients who come to Stash asking for investing help, don’t realize there’s a difference. Helping to unwind the conventional understanding of investing is our biggest task. It happens through a specific goal-setting process that we walk clients through, which ultimately allows them to understand the link between their financial goals and the investment decisions needed to be on track to reach those goals.

What are the biggest mistakes Millennials make when it comes to handling their own money?

A lot of the mistakes Millennials make are not their own fault. Studies show that the way we handle our money, in part, comes from what we saw our parents do (or not do). The most common mistakes we see Millennials make are: misusing a credit card, using the wrong credit card, ignoring student loans, using a brick & mortar savings account, and becoming victims of lifestyle creep (a.k.a. living a lifestyle they can’t afford).

How can we help young women feel more confident when it comes to investing?

Education is key! At Stash, we partner with a lot of companies to provide investing education for their Millennial employees. But there are also a lot of great blogs – Stash’s Financial Cliffnotes blog included – to help provide a better understanding of how you should think of investing. Bottomline, investing is a way for your money to grow over time, not overnight! You should think of investing to achieve your mid- and long-term goals, anything else, is gambling.

Why is “money” such a sensitive topic for many young couples?

Fact: 70% of couples fight about money more than sex! Going back to what I was saying earlier, when it comes to money, most of us emulate what we saw growing up. Because you and your significant other didn’t grow up in the same home, it’s not crazy to think that you may not be on the same page with your money to begin with. But considering money is a commonly cited reason for divorce, getting on the same page is absolutely vital. If you don’t speak the same “money language” as your partner, you WILL run into issues – we’ve seen it a million times. At Stash, we joke that 80% of what we do is therapy. Helping couples see eye to eye and work together as a team is key to helping a couple succeed financially.

What is the most important rule-of-thumb regarding investing?

There was a study done a few years ago by Fidelity Investments. They found that across ALL accounts on their system, the best performing account for the average investor was their 401k (pension plan). They dug deeper to find out why and came to the conclusion that it’s because most people <wait for it>….forget their password! This study reinforces Stash’s argument that investing isn’t about buying and selling stocks or fiddling with your portfolio. So, our 3-step rule is simple:

  1. Figure out what your investing for
    1. (define your financial goal i.e. buy a home, invest for retirement, pay for a wedding, etc.)
  2. Build an investment portfolio that gets you on track for your goal
  3. Forget about it!

To sum up, we say: “set it and forget it!”