When Tory Dunlap asks women why they don’t invest, their responses are almost always fear — fear of starting, fear of losing money, fear of making mistakes.
“This fear is a narrative that investing is harder, more intimidating, or just for men,” she told wealth“None of these things are true, of course. But we are told these narratives are meant to prevent us from learning more about how to invest. Investing is our most powerful form of wealth accumulation.”
Dunlap, 28, is the founder and CEO of Her First $100K, a financial education platform for women. Dunlap is also the host of the Business Podcast, hosts virtual workshops, and published a book in December called, financial feminist.
To her 2 million followers on TikTok, she is known as the woman who “fights the patriarchy by making you rich.”
Dunlap says everything she does is to help women achieve financial freedom, whether it’s teaching how to invest, giving tips on preparing for a recession, or using credit cards responsibly — sometimes wearing “Break the Patriarchy” t-shirt.
“Until we achieve financial equality, I don’t think we’re going to provide any kind of equality to any marginalized group,” she said. “I see this in my own life. I see that when I have money, I You can get out of a toxic situation.”
The ‘Shameless’ Approach to Financial Education
Dunlap set herself a goal: to save $100,000 by age 25—a milestone she says she did in a few months of free time (her company takes its name from that milestone). She quit her corporate job to turn her side business — a blog she started while trying to document her journey — into a business.
“I’m coming of age and then being a woman in America, which is a different America than I think we all think,” she said. “I’m trying to figure out who I want to be? What do I want to stand for? In my personal life, in my personal experience, I realize that when I have money I have more options.”
Since starting her business, she said, she has reached 4 million people (95 percent of whom are women) through social media and podcasts. Last year, the business made $3.4 million in total revenue, she said.
Still, Dunlap credits her for helping her parents and the financial habits they instilled in her. Being able to save so early in her life has a lot to do with her graduating college without debt, she said. She was able to do this in part because of financial help from her parents, her personal savings and scholarships. But she also worked multiple jobs during college, and she set up automatic transfers every month from checking accounts to savings — what she calls “savings on autopilot.” Dunlap also opened a Roth IRA (Individual Retirement Account) at the age of 22 and tried to maximize it every year.
While Dunlap says her business was already successful before she started creating content on TikTok in 2020, she knows her social media presence has propelled it further. But sometimes it can be a double-edged sword.
“TikTok is very important to our business,” Dunlap said. “However, there are still many people who don’t take us seriously.”
She continued, “We had to demonstrate our legitimacy in other ways, [like] Via podcasts or books. ”
Still, a focus on social media has helped her reach audiences she initially thought would not be interested, like Gen Z. This may be because her content goes beyond what might be considered “typical” financial advice, such as her thoughts on financial red flags in relationships and whether to combine finances with partners.
Her business, podcasts and TikToks are all about a “no shame” approach, which she says is lacking in the financial world.
“Most of the financial advice that has gone mainstream so far – Dave Ramsay, Suz Orman – is very shaming and judgmental and doesn’t acknowledge any systemic oppression,” Dunlap said of other Finance guru said.
She added: “So the reason you’re not rich is because you’re not working hard enough, right? That’s the narrative.”
There are many factors beyond a person’s control: Gender, race, sexual orientation, which Dunlap said have a greater impact on a person’s finances than other personal choices, she said. That’s why she says she wants to start a business that gives women the resources they need to improve their financial skills.
Dunlap’s website includes a money quiz to help provide users with personalized financial plans and resources (some free, some not) to help users achieve their goals. The average cost of these tools is about $50, but some are as low as $15, she said.
Dunlap’s main advice: automate as much as possible. That means setting up automatic transfers from checking accounts to savings accounts, automatic 401k contributions, automatic bill payments, and credit card statements. But beyond that, Dunlap said to be patient, because not everyone knows how to best manage their finances, and learning takes time.
She says money is power – and if women can improve their own finances, they can help others along the way. But that doesn’t mean they have to give up what they love, she said, adding that she spends a lot of money on one thing she particularly loves.
“I’m a big fan of good food,” Dunlap said. “That’s where most of my money goes, trying all the restaurants I can.”
Last year, Dunlap was standing outside a museum in Florence when she heard her name being called. She said it sounded like they knew her forever. The woman walked up to her and told her she was able to leave an abusive relationship because of Dunlap’s advice. She said they were still in touch.