Shot-Caller Wisdom

Over the past few weeks, I’ve received great feedback about the “shot-callers” I profiled on this blog.  People loved reading about Sharon, Tea and Tamar–“real” women who built successful businesses, bought dream homes, planned their ideal weddings and traveled the world–and did it all using savvy financial wisdom.  I want to send a special thanks to my favorite shot-callers–Sharon Richter, Tea M and Tamar Vezirian–for sharing their unique stories, for being so open and honest about the challenges they encountered along the way, and especially for offering simple but profound advice.


Sharon Richter

Sharon Richter

Sharon Richter, a NYC based nutritionist with a successful business ( worked hard, saved her money and built her business from the ground up.  Recently she bought and renovated her dream apartment near Central Park.  Sharon isn’t a trust fund baby, nor did she have a ‘sugar daddy’ paying her bills and buying her mink stoles.  Sharon relied on guts, hard work and discipline to get where she is today.  Here are some great tips from Sharon:

– Make and pack your breakfast and lunch every day, even if you’re on the go.

Once in a while, it’s OK to forego the big Friday night dinner with friends and just meet up after for drinks.

– If you are saving up for a big-ticket item or event like buying a home or planning/paying for a wedding, consider investing the money you’re saving to generate higher returns–like a short-term CD, high-yield savings account or mutual fund.  So when you need the money down the road, you’ll have a little bit more!

Never pay full price for designer stuff.  Almost everything goes on sale so wait for the sale to make the purchase and in the meantime, figure out a way to save up for that big purchaseSharon stuffs 10’s and 20’s into an envelope to save up for her shoes, boots, bags, etc.

Come up with a system to save money that works for you.  And then follow it!


Tea M on one of her hiking adventures

Tea M, an architect and design consultant for financial systems, recently purchased her dream apartment in NYC with a million dollar view.  Now she looks forward to designing her new home the way she has always imagined.  While the road to homeowners-ville was tough and windy, Tea was able to save money and use some financial wisdom in the meantime to get there.  She knew compromise was essential to take the next step, but there were some things that were not up for grabs–like traveling the world, skiing and hiking.  She designed her life so that she was able to buy her dream apartment while still pursuing activities that she enjoyed.  Here are some tips from Tea:

If available, make sure to sign up for credit card rewards, collect airline miles and other credit card incentives–and use them to your advantage.  This allowed Tea to travel on miles and saved her thousands of dollars on her skiing/hiking/touring trips around the world.

Figure out a budgeting system that works for you.  Tea keeps track of expenses by charging most things on one credit card.  She keeps a specific amount of “street money” on hand for unexpected expenses.

One way of keeping costs down since Tea’s apartment purchase is to cut down on unnecessary expenses.  Tea now holds off on manicures, pedicures and haircuts until absolutely necessary and keeps frivolous expenses to a minimum.


Tamar Vezirian

Tamar Vezirian, founder of Gotham Glow (, originally came to NY to pursue an acting career.  Instead, she found her calling as the owner of one of the top airbrush tanning salons in NYC. She admits that building her business was tough–demanding clients, the physical requirements of the job and the challenge of running a business alone–often wore her down.  But with guts, persistence and determination, she built Gotham Glow into a high-end service demanded by socialites, celebs, executives, business moguls– and regular peeps too.  Here are some money gems from Tamar:

If you’re thinking of starting a business, it’s best to keep your day job while you’re starting up and make sure you have a substantial amount of money set aside in savings. I suggest (this is Lena’s opinion!) about nine months’ worth of savings.

When starting a business, or if you’re saving up or trying to manage debt, make sure to keep living (and business) expenses low.  When she moved to NYC, Tamar rented a room from a 75-year-old woman, not exactly the ideal living situation for a swingin’ 23-year old woman! And as a business-owner, Tamar was a one-woman show, doing the tans, bookings, correspondences, PR, bookkeeping and anything in between.

Become an expert negotiator.  It never hurts to negotiate a price  (except maybe  not at Macy’s) or barter/exchange services.  Depending on your business, you can swap services for massages, beauty services, haircuts, PR, SEO, website help, legal advice and more.

While it’s true that we live in a ‘material world’, we have a choice about how to deal with it.  We can live like ‘ballers’–and shop til we drop, spend hundreds on just the right tone of highlights and low-lights, go to fancy restaurants and live in luxury apartments–and then go broke in the meantime.  Or we can be ‘shot-callers’– and exercise restraint and discipline when it comes to our expenses and savings.  With a little prioritization, preparation and  self-control,  we can reach our financial dreams– and still look good, eat well and wear those Jimmy Choos.


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