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The third annual Invest Fest was full of money-making and maintaining gems — but there’s always more to learn on the road to financial freedom and success.

In case you missed the three-day financial savvy event — or couldn’t snag tickets — MADAMENOIRE‘s got you covered. We chatted with certified financial planner (CFP), Nicole Carson, who shared five practical tips for building a strong financial future. The money-savvy expert shared tips suitable for any income level. As she explained to MN, the key to investment and wealth planning “lies in understanding your individual goals and available resources.”

  1. Know Your Numbers — The foundation of building wealth is understanding your financial standing. Building a budget based on your income and expenses will give you a snapshot of how much disposable income you can put toward your financial goals. Also, managing good credit is key to building wealth, as it saves you money in the long-term. Remember — banks and lenders give the best rates to those with the highest credit scores. 

  2. Invest In “Upskilling” — Investing in yourself has tremendous value on your net worth. It gives you deeper knowledge and more opportunities for increased income and employment options. Continuous learning and skill development can provide promotional roles, new employment, or a chance to become a business owner. Consider professional courses, workshops, or mentorship programs to upskill and unlock new opportunities.

  3. Utilize Your Workplace Benefits — Whether you’re an employee or a business owner, maximizing the benefits available to you is important. For entrepreneurs, optimize your business structure for tax efficiency and explore retirement options. For individual employees, workplace benefits are indirect forms of compensation that can help you increase financial security. Maximizing your employer retirement plan is a great place to start investing in your future. Money placed in a Health Savings Account (HSA) can be used for qualified medical expenses and retirement. With a company 401(K) and HSA, you can save pre-tax dollars to be used in retirement when you are in a lower tax bracket, which can generate long-term tax savings. 

  4. Invest For Your Future — Building an emergency fund is a foundational step. Allocate a portion of your income towards this to ensure you’re prepared for unexpected expenses, medical emergencies or career transitions. This safety net grants you peace of mind and safeguards your progress. Also, dismantling wealth disparities involves strategic investing. Begin by educating yourself on investment basics. Aim for a diversified portfolio comprising low-cost, tax-efficient securities. Consider index funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and mutual funds. These options minimize fees and maximize returns, aligning with your long-term goals.

  5. Protect Your Wealth – Insuring your wealth is just as important as attaining it. Making sure you have the proper life, health and disability insurance gives you peace of mind in case of financial loss. Being prepared for the unexpected with insurance helps ensure you can still achieve your financial goals, even when the unexpected strikes.


Carson’s digital financial planning firm, 2nd Story Wealth Planners, leads with compassion and expertise. It specializes in helping small business owners, professional women and people of color build and maintain their financial growth.

As MN and the CFP discussed, money is a sensitive and multifaceted topic shaped by one’s unique circumstances and aspirations. However, taking even small steps can help you move towards larger financial goals. 


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“Creating wealth can be achieved at any income level,” Carson emphasized. “As we navigate our financial journey, it’s crucial to make informed decisions that lead to wealth accumulation and secure our futures.” 

The 2nd Story Wealth Founder encouraged those of all income levels to “adapt and take action.”

“Building a strong financial foundation contributes to your own prosperity and the advancement of future generations,” Carson stated. “Remember, the road to wealth is an ongoing journey. Each strategic step you take brings you closer to your goals. Empower yourself, empower your community and empower your future.”

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