Many Women Would Rather Not Talk about Money

Alumni4 MIN READ

Cole Kalin ’14 cofounded a business to change that

Jonathan '14 and Cole Kalin '14 at home in Brooklyn, N.Y. Cole Kalin founded a consulting business, Ladies Talking about Money, which helps women with money-management tools and tips.
By Kayla Voigt '14Photography by Maegan Gindi
June 5, 2024

When Cole Yaverbaum Kalin ’14 began her first post-grad job as an elementary school teacher through Teach for America, she did what many Americans do: completely ignore their retirement accounts. 

When prompted to sign up, Kalin put it off. Despite graduating magna cum laude and serving as class president, she felt intimidated when it came to her own finances. “I had all these questions, and I didn’t understand how it worked,” she said. “It caused a lot of tension for me.”

She was hardly alone. Thirty-eight percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 don’t have any retirement savings at all, and men are much more likely than women to have retirement savings, a gap that only grows wider as they get older. In fact, 50 percent of women ages 55 to 66 had no personal retirement savings in 2017, according to the United States Census Bureau. And a report by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave found that 61 percent of women would rather discuss their own death than money. 

Instead of postponing her retirement planning any longer, Kalin decided to jump in and learn. She left teaching and became a certified financial paraplanner, and in 2019 she cofounded Ladies Talking About Money with her husband, Jonathan Kalin ’14. “I realized a lot of the women I was working with also didn’t know, so I decided to start a newsletter where I’d write about what I was learning,” she said.

A woman with long hair and wearing a bright pink suit stands in front of a bookcase.
Cole Kalin, cofounder of the consulting business Ladies Talking about Money. Her interest in the topic began as an elementary school teacher, when she was unsure what to do about her retirement plan.

Kalin credits the power of the Colby network for giving her the confidence to leave teaching and become an entrepreneur in 2022. She got help from software engineer Jeff Carpenter ’12, copywriter Annie Bacher ’14, and her husband. A serial entrepreneur himself, Jonathan Kalin founded Party With Consent as a junior at Colby to facilitate conversations around sexual violence prevention. 

“Building this business is the direct result of going to Colby. The network is where it all began, from meeting my business partner to my first client,” said Kalin. “I thought, ‘Well, I’m an elementary school teacher, I have no formal training in this space. I can’t do this.’ But the support from my Colby network has been incredible, and it’s given me the confidence to learn more.”

Together, they’re working to make Ladies Talking About Money into a community that empowers women to take control of their finances.

“At Colby, I found a sense of social justice,” she said. “With women and money, so much of the discourse is on the wage gap and how it’s unfair that women earn far less than men. That’s true, but the investment gap is even more significant. A woman who earns $100,000 a year but never invests loses millions of dollars over the course of her life.”

“Women come to me because they want to feel empowered around their own money, not just let someone else take care of it.”

Cole Kalin ’14, cofounder of Ladies Talking About Money

Kalin wants Ladies Talking About Money to make financial topics feel like any other conversation. 

An English major at Colby, Kalin still doesn’t consider herself a finance expert. But she does know what it’s like to be in her clients’ shoes.

“I’m honestly still in the business of education. When I worked as a special education teacher, my job was to make learning how to read less scary. I’m doing the same thing now with personal finance,” she said. “Women come to me because they want to feel empowered around their own money, not just let someone else take care of it. They’re coming to some sort of breaking point or transition in their lives that make them realize this is a gap they need to fill.”