The Biz

Patty Schwartz is 28. Now living in Asheville, she spent three years in college in Florida studying political science before quitting “out of boredom,” she says with a resigned sigh. She bounced around a few states in the Southeast working odd jobs and “partying a little too much.” Now, with her 30s bearing down on her, she is beginning to worry—a lot.

“I’m having the time of my life here but, yeah, I’m a bit concerned about my financial future,” she says. “I always expected that by the time I hit 30 I’d be settled somehow, with some sort of career and some financial cushion, but right now I’m working temp jobs, and that’s not something I want to do forever. But my biggest problem, really, is money. My parents never really taught me crap about money. Heck, I don’t even have a savings account or an IRA—how pathetic is that?”

While a lack of financial acumen or planning is certainly not relegated to women alone, a conference on Saturday, Sept. 29, entitled “Women and Money: Financing Your Life,” aims to empower women to master the money game and take control of their financial lives.

While the conference, hosted by WNC Woman magazine and A-B Tech and now in its third year, is also beneficial to women business owners and entrepreneurs, “it’s really primarily personal,” says WNC Woman co-publisher Julie Parker. “We tried to cover as wide a spectrum as we could,” she adds, noting that the conference will have presentations from Mountain BizWorks and Self Help Credit Union that will appeal to current or would-be businesswomen.

“What is so wonderful is that we are doing outreach as much as possible … with nonprofits to women who are just barely hanging in there [financially], women in drug recovery or women escaping an abusive husband. We’ve got a certain number of scholarships for these women,” Parker says. “It was really beautiful last time—you could tell who they were when they arrived. You could see their heads down, very tentative walking in, [but] as they walked out at the end their shoulders were back, their heads were up and they looked so full of confidence.”

The daylong conference will feature numerous straightforward, how-to presentations and breakout sessions on such topics as protecting your credit, understanding mortgages, avoiding common financial mistakes, long-term care planning, estate planning and more. The conference will also address crafts entrepreneurs and the legal and financial issues faced by would-be and existing business owners.

And this being Asheville, the event will also feature what many would consider esoterica for a financial conference. Local consultant and keynote speaker Cheri Britton “helps people transform by changing their negative, harmful thoughts to ones that are positive, uplifting and inspirational,” according to her bio. Britton will be one of a handful of speakers who will address financial health from a mind/spirit perspective.

For full details, including a schedule and speaker information, visit www.wnc-woman.com and click on the conference link.

Digital menace:
That digital copier of yours is a real office boon: It prints, it faxes, it scans and copies. And, in all likelihood, it has a hard drive that stores every page it has ever been fed. For law offices, medical practices, and other businesses that handle sensitive info, such copiers pose a high-level risk, according to local suppliers. The machines can be hacked into, and information thieves can also plunder the drives after you’ve discarded them. Tip: If you plan to upgrade, ask your supplier or IT staff to scrub the drives before discarding your existing copier. If you plan to keep your machine, ask your supplier if your model stores such information and what they can do to lessen your risk, such as saving the info on a secure server instead.

Budding entrepreneurs:
Highlands-based Carland Academy is hosting a contest for a full scholarship for its Certificate Program in Entrepreneurship as well as its Advanced Certificate in Entrepreneurship. Each entrepreneurship-certificate course of study is a six-month program, delivered entirely online. Those who would like to enter may submit a completed contest form to Carland Academy by Oct. 8, 2007. Contestants should explain in 250 words or less why they would like to learn how to become an entrepreneur. Designed with working adults in mind, courses cover all aspects of entrepreneurial life and will help individuals develop the skills needed to be successful in launching and growing a business, according to Carland Chief Operating Officer Susie deVille Schiffli. To request a contest form, call 526-9251. Entries may be mailed to Carland Academy, P.O. Box 2280, Highlands, N.C. 28741; e-mailed to susie@CarlandAcademy.com; or faxed to (866) 430-4301. Visit www.carlandacademy.com for more information.

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