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About this publication


ctober is National Women’s Small Business Month, an event championed by the National Women’s Business Council, a nonpartisan federal advisory council to the president, Congress and the U.S. Small Business Administration. Women still face many obstacles in the workplace such as sexual harassment, gender bias and wage discrimination. However, women have made advances across the business spectrurm. We’re celebrating the success of women in business by highlighting Interior Alaska women who own and manage a variety of successful enterprises in our community.


PROFILES Brenda Riley........................................................2 Stella Carpenter ................................................4 Mary Kopf ............................................................6 Monica Mazakis.................................................8 Donna Gates.......................................................15

Brenda Riley is exec

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Executive director runs nonprofit museum as a business By Nancy Tarnai FOR THE NEWS-MINER


renda Riley had long desired a children’s museum for Fairbanks, and after her third child was born, she said, “It’s time.” In 2009, Riley wrote a onepage business plan to bring her ideas to fruition. Starting with pop-up events in 2011 and opening in a temporary space in 2013, the Fairbanks Children’s Museum has had a permanent home since Jan. 31, 2015. As a business leader in the nonprofit arena, Riley, the museum’s executive director, said her greatest success has been building an idea from an all-volunteer team into a strong organization that is making a difference in the community. “The children’s museum has long been a dream for many families in our community, and I’m proud to have been able to help make that happen,” she said. Riley, 42, is quick to add that she didn’t do this alone. “It takes a strong team to be successful,” she said. “In our case, that team consists of our board of directors who are involved in financial and policy oversight and who advocate for the importance of investing in children and our staff and volunteers who are dedicated to providing a quality product for our customers.” Born in Ketchikan and spending part of her childhood in Skagway, Riley has lived in Fairbanks for 30 years. She earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and worked as an archaeologist for a few years. Her Brenda Rile y helped bring th years at Image Optical e Fairbanks Child Museum from an ren’s idea to a thriving gave her insight into entity. ERIC ENGM NEWS-MINER AN/ how a small business

“Lead ding a nonproffit is simply running a business works. “Leading a nonprofit is simply running a business with a social mission,” Riley said. “While for-profit business revenues benefit the owner of the business, nonprofits reinvest their revenues into the mission of their organization for the good of the community. The donors who invest in the children’s museum see their investments returned in the form of quality early childhood education, stronger families and opportunities for children. All of these returns directly benefit all Fairbanksans.” Emphasizing that the museum is not just a play place, Riley said it is also an early childhood development agency with a broad reach in the community. She cited yearly attendance at 42,000 visitors. “We occupied a vacant building, provided jobs and have an economic impact through this cultural attraction,” Riley said. “Families come to the museum and they shop and eat downtown, and out-of-town guests come, too.” Today the museum, located downtown at 302 Cushman St., employs five full-time and four part-time staff. The importance of her team can’t be overlooked, Riley said. “Happy staff; happy life,” she said. Also, listening to customers is absolutely essential to the success of any business, she said. Riley’s advice to women considering starting a business is to test your product. “We did a feasibility study,” she said. “There are great resources in town and online. Research, research, research.”

The most difficult thing about being a female business leader is learning not to take things personally, she said. “You can’t be afraid of being perceived as mean. Don’t be afraid of making a decision that’s not popular if it’s in the best interests of your business or career.” When people assume she is a volunteer at the nonprofit, she sets them straight. “A lot goes on behind the scenes; we are serious about our business and we hustle,” she said. Some of those details include insurance, regulations, payroll taxes, background checks, fundraising and marketing. “My greatest challenge at times is fighting the idea that nonprofit overhead isn’t worth funding,” Riley said. “While everybody loves the idea of a children’s museum and there are plenty of financial resources to build exhibits, often donors directly state that they don’t fund the people or the location and utilities required to have programming. As in any business, you are only as good as your frontline staff. Having the ability to retain qualified staff is key to the success of our program, and, of course, if we can’t pay our full-market lease, there would be no museum at all.” Riley deals with the stress of her job by trying to get enough rest and by reading. In the end, the rewards outweigh the challenges. “I can go in the museum and see happy kids and know that we’ve done a great job. We have a quality museum that our community enjoys.” Nancy Tarnai is a freelance writer living in Fairbanks.


Wednesday, October 17, 2018





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ER ARPENT irplan a TELLA C S n F a O f o Y S t RTE mped ou TO COU re, has ju ears. PHO y to s e r v e fi p u in S p ’s other jum and Stella ing for an wn Shop a P im a e ’s ic e D h o S ner of Tw birthday. enter, ow her 90th p r te a a r C b a le ll e Ste to c eptember again in S

She jumped into Fairbanks retail biz, and loves it By Kyrie Long KLONG@NEWSMINER.COM


he history of Two Dice Pawn Shop and Stella’s Superstore is really a love story. “A man that owned Two Dice was downtown and Ben became his silent partner,” Stella Carpenter said. “And then the next thing I knew,

we owned it, Ben tells me. We own it — a pawn shop.” Carpenter, 90, came to Alaska with her husband, Ben Carpenter Sr., in 1951. They traveled in their 1947 Chevy Convertible, with their 3-yearold daughter Omega. Seven years later, the couple’s son, Ben Jr., was born. They were “self-made people,” she said.

Two Dice Pawn Shop was located on Second Avenue when Ben Carpenter Sr. purchased it. Since then, the shop has been moved to its present location off Airport Way. “Whenever he started it was very small,” Carpenter said, “but once we got in it, it just mushroomed.” Carpenter grew up in Mississippi, where she worked in her

parents’ restaurant and met Ben. They got married with only $43 between them, Carpenter said, and they shared a hamburger and a glass of milk, something she does for their anniversary to this day. While she never planned to be in business, when they moved to the state Carpenter worked at the local co-op and she opened her own dry-clean-

ing business, The Alaska Cleaners, which she operated while helping at Two Dice until she decided to transition over entirely to the pawn shop. Carpenter said she hasn’t faced many issues being a woman working as a business owner. Even dating back to her time working in her parents’ CARPENTER » 5

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CARPENTER Continued from 4 restaurant, she’s always enjoyed working with people. “Everybody always loved me; I don’t know why,� she said. “I guess because I love people.� When her husband died five years ago, Carpenter took over the shop she had helped manage for decades, as well as the attached store, Stella’s Superstore. For her, the people remain the most important aspect of owning the store. “The people are what keeps your doors open,� she said, “and so they’re the ones that come first.� She said the trans-Alaska oil pipeline brought good business, the business fell away for awhile when construction concluded. She’s seen the economy rise up and ebb away, but Carpenter’s attitude is steadfast. She says if you build it, customers will come.

“Just because my parents owned a small restaurant and I worked in it, that wasn’t like owning it. But you learn to love what you do.� — Stella Carpen nter

The customers do come for Stella, and when they do, they sometimes ask her when she’s going to jump out of an airplane again. When Carpenter dove out of an airplane on Sept. 4, 2018, it was for her birthday; however, it was also for her husband. The two went skydiving with family as part of their 64th wedding anniversary in 2009.

Ben Sr. wanted to skydive again for his 90th birthday, but he died in 2013 before he could reach the milestone. “Throughout these 10 years I’ve thought, well Ben didn’t make it to jump for the 90,� she said. “So then I will.� Carpenter said she might aim to jump again in a few years. When she asked her son, Ben Jr., if he thought she

could skydive at 100 years old, she said he told her, “Let’s try for 95.� Carpenter said she has made it to 90 by continuing to do things the way she’s always done them, and she tries to keep a positive attitude. Despite her many successful years in business, she will be retiring soon, so she has been in the process of liquidating

since July 2018. She said her real estate agent is handling the building but that the stock has to go before they can close the doors on her 28-year-old business. She is considering going back to visit Mississippi once she has concluded her business in Fairbanks but plans to return to Alaska regardless. She is going to keep the store open and the customers coming until she can sell her inventory. Her advice to other women looking to start their own business is the same as her mother’s: Anything worth doing is worth doing right. “I had never did anything like this,� she said. “Just because my parents owned a small restaurant and I worked in it, that wasn’t like owning it. But you learn to love what you do.� Kyrie Long is a Daily News-Miner editorial assistant. Contact her at 459-7572.


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Wednesday, October 17, 2018


Mary Kopf, owner of Sunshine Health Foods, is planning a major expansion and opening a cafe. ERIC ENGMAN/NEWS-MINER FILE PHOTO MARY KOPF

Sunshine owner keeps business healthy, growing By David James FOR THE NEWS-MINER


think of this business as an entity that has actually become my life,” said Mary Kopf, longtime owner of Sunshine Health Foods. “I can’t imagine not doing it. That’s why I’m not retired, I guess.” Far from being retired, and despite being at the age when most people head that direction, Kopf is in the midst of the biggest expansion her store has ever undergone. Thirty-two years after buying what was then a tiny business on Airport Way, and more than two decades after moving it to its present location on Trainor Gate Road, Kopf earlier this year opened a second, larger outlet in the old Gulliver’s Books building on College Road near the University of Alaska Fairbanks. In addition to the expanded retail space, the shop will also be opening a

cafe on the second floor. “The restaurant business is a whole new animal to me,” Kopf said, explaining that the eatery will be serving gluten-free meals with vegan and meat options. Getting all the details for this venture right, from suppliers to menu planning to setting prices, is a significant challenge, she added. “We’re trying to not leave a big carbon footprint. Our milk, and virtually anything we use in the cafe, will be organic. The coffee is organic, and is locally roasted from Diving Duck. We’re trying to do everything clean. We’re checking labels to the smallest ingredient. We’re checking for high quality without charging $15 for a sandwich. It’s been difficult.” For Kopf, this kind of effort is nothing new. Having always had an interest in health and medicine, she bought the business in 1986 and, she said,

“For the first 10 years I worked at least 12 hours a day, seven days a week,” adding, “When you own your own business, it really owns you. You better love what you’re doing, which I really do.” Taking a few moments out from a busy morning to answer questions, Kopf said her first piece of advice for women looking to open a business is that they must be willing to work hard. “There will be times that necessitate working all day and all night and all day. Otherwise, you can’t catch up,” she said. “After spending the day with your customers, the evening shift is spent unpacking shipments and making orders. Someone has do the stocking and cleaning and the multitude of other tasks necessary to keep things operating.” Sunshine Health Foods dates back to the mid-1970s and was what Kopf describes

as a “turnkey store” when she bought it, meaning it was already up and running. It wasn’t long before she expanded it, though, which put her through rigors similar to those of opening a new business. One of her biggest turning points came when she hired Katie Johnson around 2000 as manager of the Trainor Gate store, a position Johnson still holds. Kopf praised Johnson as the best manager she could hope for, likening her to a surrogate daughter. Keeping Sunshine Health Foods afloat without going into debt while raising kids, caring for aging parents, and dealing with the ups and downs of life has not only meant Kopf has needed to work long hours at her own store but also that she’s taken side jobs, like working the 1989 oil spill cleanup, to earn money to pump into the business.

“If you do it the way we did it,” she said, “obviously it’s going to take years.” But it has paid off, she said, pointing out that her biggest success, in her opinion, is “the fact that the business is still here.” Additionally, she appreciates “an old-school loyal following of customers who have become friends.” “Our top priority in this business has always been to give good service to our customers,” she explained. “I believe that’s the reason they have been so faithful to me these last three decades.” The work has been meaningful to her and helped her to take advantage of the opportunities she feels lie at the heart of this country’s culture. “It’s still pretty exciting to own your own business,” she concluded. “It’s the foundation of the American dream.” David James is a freelance writer living in Fairbanks.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner





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onica Mazakis describes what she serves from her Just the Tips food hut on the corner of College Road and Aurora Drive as “really a fusion of my

passions.� “Foraging and sharing with the community my passion for educating people on local botanicals, local berries, and local body care,� she said. “And food.� Business at the drive-up hut,

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MAZAKIS Continued from 8 healthy meals with an emphasis on vegetables and prefers to find local suppliers. “I work with North Pole Pioneer Farm and Alaska Farm and Risse Greenhouse. I use local produce in my food when available. That’s another way of supporting my community,” she said, adding that her most popular dish, Midnight Marrakesh, includes meat from Delta Meat and Sausage Company. It’s a Greek-style dish with couscous, local greens, grass-fed beef meatballs, Moroccan spices, feta, tomatoes, olives and cucumber, all drizzled with tzatziki sauce. Mazakis, who attended culinary school in Las Vegas about 20 years ago, serves international-style fare. Another popular item, she said, is chicken chimichurri, which originates from Argentina.

Monica Mazakis prepares meat tti pa es at her food hut, Just The Tips. ERIC ENGMAN/ NEWSMINER


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MAZAKIS Continued from 9 Additionally, she makes a warmed drink called Golden Heart Turmeric Milk, which is non-dairy (the options are coconut or almond milk) and infused with turmeric, cinnamon, ginger and black pepper. She said many customers stop by for a cup. Among her desserts, the top seller has been raw chocolate truffles that incorporate blueberries and raspberries she has gathered. Just the Tips is an expression of Mazakis’ personal values. “I believe in whole foods and nourishing the body,� she said. She’s catering to people on paleo, keto, and gluten-free diets and making sure there are safe options for those with nut allergies. Additionally, she’s serving her food in containers that are both reusable and biodegradable. She said her healthy dishes are filling a niche that no other restaurants, huts, or food trucks serve and that operators of other culinary businesses have been nothing but supportive toward her. Having recently opened her business, she said the best advice she could offer

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

other women looking to do likewise is, “Have the confidence in yourself. This was one of the scariest things I’ve done in my life. I quit my job, I’m a single mom. I said, ‘I know I can do it.’� She also advised, “Stay true to why you started your business in the first place.� Mazakis is putting that latter point to work in several ways. Her overriding principle is, “I refuse to give out poor quality. I will give you the best food I can.� Part of keeping that standard means she doesn’t want to expand despite her unexpectedly big success. “I outgrew my space the first week I opened,� she said, “but this is big as I want to be. I want to stay small. I’m completely a one-woman show, and that has been my biggest challenge. Keeping it sustainable and keeping it fluid on my own.� Having already donated food to several causes, Mazakis said she plans to continue reaching out to those in need. “I’m hoping to find a way to give back to the community from this little place I have.� Her biggest success so far? “I’m still here. Two days this week there have

Monica Mazakis poses outside her food hut, Just The Tips. Business has been steady since she opened, she says. ERIC ENGMAN/ NEWSMINER


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Census: Number of woman-owned businesses on the rise U.S. Census Bureau

Women-owned employer firms in the United States increased by approximately 2.8 percent in 2016 to 1,118,863 from 1,088,466 in 2015, according to findings from the U.S. Census Bureauâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 2016 Annual Survey of Entrepre-

neurs. The data also shows that women owned approximately 20 percent (1,118,863) of all employer businesses (5,601,758) nationwide. Additionally, about one-quarter (289,326 or 25.9 percent) of all women-owned employer firms were minority owned.

The Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs provides a demographic portrait of the nationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s employer businesses by gender, ethnicity, race and veteran status. Tables released in August provide estimates on the number of firms, receipts, payroll and employment for the nation, the states and the Dis-

trict of Columbia, and the 50 most populous metropolitan statistical areas. The Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs is being folded into the Annual Business Survey. Announced in June 2018, this new survey will include an innovation content module and replaces the Survey of Business Owners, Annu-

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Tonglen Lake Lodge evolves into community center By Kris Capps KCAPPS@NEWSMINER.COM


ENALI PARKâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;Tonglen Lake Lodge has a special spot in the heart of the Denali community. Maybe itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s because so many artistic neighbors added their own special flair to the lodge, which opened in 2013. Maybe itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s because itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a picturesque place to share a morning cup of coffee with friends and neighbors. Or maybe itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s because visitors enjoy a chance to interact with all those local Alaskans. Visitors share in the camaraderie, and it begins when they drive up a long and winding road off the Parks Highway, just south of the entrance to Denali National Park. Tonglen Lake Lodge is the hidden gem at the end of that remote road. This is a destination for both locals and visitors. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The community aspect of this is a big deal for me,â&#x20AC;? said owner Donna Gates, a longtime and well-known Alaska artist who often describes the lodge property as her new palette. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Just being able to see my community when Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m busy and working all summer. Plus, that joy or pleasure in providing something nice for the people you love.â&#x20AC;? The Artisanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Cafe, inside the lodge, is the local go-to spot for morning coffee and pastries in the Donna Gates stands on the porch of her Tonglen Lake Lodge, in Mc McKinley Village area. A gallery Kinley Village, near the entrance Denali National Park & Preserve. to The lodge is a community gatherin g spot. KRIS CAPPS/NEWS-MINER GATES Âť 16

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GATES Continued from 15 highlights Alaska artists. More than 50 artists have their work included in the gallery, from pottery to jewelry, two-dimensional art, and wearable art. “I do get a kick out of supporting artists of all kinds,” Gates said. “It’s fun for me.” The summer includes events such as Tonglen’s Tiny Triathlon, workshops, wine tastings, and musical performances both inside the lodge and on the outdoor stage. “It was a surprise to me that all these musicians think Tonglen is the place to be,” Gates said. “It is a magical place. Acoustics are amazing.” It’s also smaller than other venues and not really conducive to huge audiences. That just adds to the hometown appeal. “So the joy the performers have in performing here is nothing I would have anticipated,” she said. “So that was a wonderful surprise.” When Gates launched this new business seven years ago, she knew it was going to take a lot of effort. Although she had worked in the tourism business for decades already, she had not operated a lodge. “I tried hard not to have expectations because it was too new,” she said. “So there was a giant learning curve. I had hoped it would almost develop its own path, as things progressed and I learned more. I could find out what worked and what didn’t, what people liked and what they didn’t like.” “The place would have a life of its

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

2018 WOMEN IN BUSINESS own,” she said. And that’s what happened. She offers lodging in 10 cabins, as well as five rooms in the guest house. Those guest house rooms are also available for rent during winter months. That coincides nicely with the recent boom in winter tourism in the Denali area. “This is just such a gorgeous place for a weekend getaway,” she said. The property continues to evolve. “I’m still working on perfecting and sprucing up the property,” she said. There’s a possibility she may build more cabins. She’s also looking for a manager with a vision of his or her own. “I think this property has incredible potential,” Gates said. “Someone else needs to step in and make the place blossom. I’m looking for that person.” Meanwhile, guests will continue to enjoy sitting on the swings around the campfire circle and enjoying complimentary appetizers.

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len Lake Lodge. Artisan’s Cafe at Tong a Gates sits inside the DonnFDNMkris.



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Women who retire with their husbands often lose out By LIZ WESTON NERDWALLET


omen who retire when their husbands do may be giving up more wealth than they

realize. Married women overall are still in their peak earning years in their 50s and early 60s, while married menâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s earnings are on the decline, says economist Nicole Maestas, an associate professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School and the author of a recent study about couplesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; income and retirement patterns. As a result, married women typically sacrifice more Social Security wealth than married men when they retire early, says Maestas, who analyzed the University of Michiganâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Health and Retirement Survey of more than 20,000 people 50 and older. Social Security benefits are based on a personâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 35 highest-earning years, so each additional year an older married woman works could replace an earlier year when her income was lower or

Liz Weston she took time out of the workforce â&#x20AC;&#x201D; for instance, to raise children. Because older married men are typically past their peak earning years, the same is not true for them, Maestas found. But women do typically retire at the same time as their husbands, Maestas says. Since women in heterosexual couples typically marry men two or three years older, that means married women leave the workforce at younger ages.

Women face extra risks

Delay Social Security, if not retirement

Earlier retirements also mean less time to save for retirements that can stretch decades. That should give women pause, says Jean Setzfand, senior vice president of programs for AARP. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We live longer. We spend more years in retirement. There are more years we have to consider financing,â&#x20AC;? Setzfand says. Womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s longer life expectancies mean theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re likely to outlive their husbands, and theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re at greater risk of outliving their savings. Women are 80 percent more likely than men to live in poverty after age 65, according to the National Institute on Retirement Security. Social Security checks, if theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re big enough, can be a powerful antidote to late-in-life poverty. Social Security benefits canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be outlived, reduced by stock market downturns or stolen by fraudsters, Maestas notes.

People donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have to claim Social Security when they retire, although many do. Thirty-nine percent of women and 35 percent of men in 2017 filed at the earliest age, which is 62, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. That locks them into checks that are significantly smaller than if theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d waited a few years. Benefits rise by about 7 percent each year between age 62 and full retirement age, which is currently 66. After that, checks increase by 8 percent each year until benefits max out at age 70. A $1,000 monthly benefit at 62 could be over $1,300 at 66 or over $1,700 at 70, even if someone stops working. No other investment can offer that kind of guaranteed return, which is why planners often encourage their WESTON Âť 20




WESTON Continued from 19 clients to tap other retirement funds if that allows them to delay claiming Social Security.

It’s not just about the money Financial considerations are just one part of the decision, financial planners say. Couples also have to consider the emotional and psychological issues of retiring together or apart. “The beginning of retirement is an exciting time, and many couples enjoy starting that journey together,” says Stephanie Mushna, a certified financial planner in Grand Rapids, Michigan. People approaching retirement age are often keenly aware that their time on earth, and their good health, won’t last forever. That can make it harder to stick it out, especially if it’s at a job they don’t like. But working even a year or two longer can have a dramatic impact on the viability of a couple’s


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

financial plan and the amount they can spend in retirement, planners say. Other options are stepping down to a lower-stress job or one with more flexibility. Instead of traveling full time with a retired spouse, wives may be able to schedule some extended vacations, Setzfand suggests. That assumes, of course, that women can find such jobs. Many of the women who will be most dependent on Social Security may be locked into jobs with little flexibility, she notes. Health concerns and caregiving for family members also can push women out of the workforce earlier than they expect. Maestas understands that not every married woman wants or will be able to keep working, but she hopes her research will at least prompt couples to discuss their options. “It often does make sense to at least delay claiming Social Security,” Maestas says. “But there’s not really one right answer for everyone.” This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Liz Weston is a columnist at NerdWallet, a certified financial planner and author of “Your Credit Score.” Email: lweston@ Twitter: @lizweston.

Taje Perkins, left, poses for a photo with her mother Takiia Anderson on her first day at Spelman College in Atlanta in 2015. Today, Anderson’s student debt is long gone. NERDWALLET VIA AP



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Single mom masterminds $700K swing from debt to savings with laser focus By Kevin Voigt NERDWALLET


hen Takiia Anderson graduated from Boston College Law School in 1999, she was a single mom with a 2-year-old child, nearly $100,000 in student loans and a new job as a government attorney that paid $34,102 a year. She didn’t like that math. “People are talking about 20 years to pay off a student loan, and my daughter is going to college in 16 years,” recalls Anderson, now 47 and based in Atlanta. “I didn’t want to be in a situation where I’m helping her pay for college while I’m still paying my student loan.” Today, Anderson’s student debt is long gone. She has nearly $500,000 in retirement savings, and her daughter, Taje Perkins, finished her third year at Spelman College in Atlanta with no student loans to cover its nearly $30,000 per year in tuition and fees. How did she do it? She set a series of targets and kept a laser-like focus on them that, even though she later became a high-earner and has ridden a surging stock market, can serve as a lesson to others today. “Any time I got a raise, a bonus or a tax refund, I put it toward my debt, my daughter’s education savings and then retirement,” Anderson says.

Tough choice: Save for retirement or college?

Many financial advisers would advise flipping those last two priorities: “The same way that airplane announcements tell us parents should put on their own oxygen masks before assisting their children, parents should prioritize saving for retirement and putting themselves in a good financial position before saving for their children’s education,” says Paul R. Ruedi, CEO of Ruedi Wealth Management in Plano, Texas. Yet more parents like Anderson are





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prioritizing saving for college over retirement — 56 percent are doing the former versus 54 percent the latter, according to a recent survey by Sallie Mae , one of the nation’s largest student loan lenders. “Although college wasn’t as expensive when I went in 1989, I know what it’s like not to have to pay those bills, and that’s what I wanted for her,” says Anderson, a Howard University graduate.

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Tackling her big debt first

Anderson attacked her student loan debt first with single-minded determination. “We didn’t have cable. No internet,” she recalls, adding that instead they watched old or borrowed DVDs and VHS tapes. “I was literally living in overdraft protection. But I was paying my bills on time. I drove the same car for 12 years, cooked at home and packed lunches.” As her salary increased and she was promoted to roles with the U.S. Department of Labor in Maryland, Philadelphia and Atlanta, she pumped more cash toward her debt. “Even when I was making low six figures, I was renting $1,200 apartments — a lot of money for some people, but much less than I could afford,” she says. In the end, Anderson was able to pay off her $100,000 in debt in nine years rather than 20.

Saving: From $135 in change to $12K a year

Anderson began saving for her daughter’s education when Taje was 3 years old. She started small. Following advice she heard on “Oprah,” Anderson paid for daily expenses in cash and at the end of each day threw change in a drawer. After one year, she had $135 that she used to open a savings account for Taje. She SAVINGS » 22



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Fairbanks Daily News-Miner



Debt-free means more life choices

SAVINGS Continued from 21

son, Takiia Ander r a photo left, poses fo ghter with her dau during Taje Perkins us visit a 2014 camp alma to Andersonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s d mater, Howar in ty si Univer Today, Washington. udent Andersonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s st ne. She debt is long go 0,000 has nearly $50 t in retiremen her d an , gs savin e aj T r, te daugh hed her is n fi s, Perkin Spelman third year at anta College in Atl t loans with no studen early to cover its n year in $30,000 per es. tuition and fe

Some might view Andersonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s story as one of sacrifice, but she believes that aggressively paying down her debt has brought her freedom, like the opportunity to choose early retirement this year after working 20 years with the government. Anderson has $15,000 in emergency savings, owns a home and is doing contract legal work to keep earning some money. She also writes a personal finance blog, â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Frugal Biddy.â&#x20AC;? Her daughter has begun her last year in college, and she will be taking over payments from her mother and getting student loans to finish her degree. Dedicating five or 10 years of a career to pay down debt â&#x20AC;&#x153;may seem to some that they are losing their life, but what they donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t realize is how much they gain,â&#x20AC;? says Anderson.

later rolled that into a 529 college savings plan and began contributing $50 a month. Once Anderson paid off her student loans and credit cards in 2008, she began saving $12,000 a year toward her daughterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s education. By the time Taje started college, Anderson had saved $56,000 and added another $22,000 during her first years. But to do so, Anderson quit contributing to her government retirement plan for two years â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a move most financial advisers would caution against. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Fortunately, the two years I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t contribute to my retirement plan was during the financial crisis,â&#x20AC;? she says. In 2010, she resumed contributing to her employer-sponsored retirement plan up to the legal limit â&#x20AC;&#x201D; $16,500 a year at that time â&#x20AC;&#x201D; â&#x20AC;&#x153;to catch up,â&#x20AC;? she says. Andersonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s max contributions have aligned nicely with the current nine-year bull market, in which the S&P 500 index has seen annualized returns of about 10 percent.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018



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Next step for NBA is hiring women in positions of power Associated Press MEMPHIS, TENN. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich sees one simple way for both the NBA and women to mark real progress in the league. Hire more women in positions of power. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think there just has to be

more, more of the same,â&#x20AC;? said Popovich, who during the offseason promoted assistant coach Becky Hammon, moving her one step closer to a head coaching seat. â&#x20AC;&#x153;There are more Beckys out there, they just have to be noticed and given the opportunity by people who are wise enough and courageous enough

to do it and not just sit in the old paradigm.â&#x20AC;? And not just on the bench, but on the business side of the NBA as well. The NBA routinely gets high marks for its diversity efforts and is widely viewed as a leader on social issues. Still, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver believes

the league needs to be better, and he made his feelings known in a memo to teams in the wake of the Dallas Mavericksâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; embarrassing scandal. Several NBA teams tout statistics about women in their workforce, but beyond a handful â&#x20AC;&#x201D; including Lakers controlling owner Jeanie Buss and Pelicans

owner Gayle Benson â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the next step for the league seems to be more women in positions of power. Memphis guard Mike Conley said itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s important for basketball, business and society itself to have women in positions of authority. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We welcome it, and we do want to see more of that,â&#x20AC;? Conley

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018


The women of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner salute all Women in Business!

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2018 Women in Business  

Special section highlighting woman who own or manage businesses in Fairbanks, Alaska

2018 Women in Business  

Special section highlighting woman who own or manage businesses in Fairbanks, Alaska

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