• Melissa Walton-Jones

Finer Finance Fridays #10


Finer Finance Fridays is BACK!! How has your summer been?! So far, my summer has been great. I've been spending time with my family, I've been on a few road trips, and I celebrated my birthday last month! I've also been studying for the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) Exam. So, I'd say, it's been busy, but So Sweet!!

As many of you know, summer isn't the "off season" for Zetas, it's the planning season! So I've spent time with my chapter getting ready for the new year, I've been engaging with many of you, and other sorors, about Zeta Finance and reviewing the results of the survey that I distributed. One of the concerns I hear from sorors is about the cost of multiple conferences in a given year, in addition to local chapter commitments, especially during a Boule' year. Let's talk about that, in the context of exploring an elements of Zeta Sorority Life, the cost of membership. Zeta Sorority Life, what does that really mean? Well, it means a lot, but today's focus will be on the REAL cost of membership.

On March 23, 2000, in Holly Springs, MS, while wearing a pretty white dress suit, I, along with six other young women, took the oath and made a lifelong commitment to be a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated. "Once a Zeta, Always a Zeta..." I remember becoming emotionally overwhelmed as I repeated the words that were called out to me and my other six line sisters. Words of value, commitment, dedication, sisterhood, and loyalty; joining Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated was one of the best and biggest decisions of my life. It was also one of the biggest financial decisions I'd made at that point in my life. However, I didn't realize that at the time. Now, I know better, and so, I do better by planning better. Hopefully, this will help you plan better too.

On average as a new member, during her first year of membership, could spend upwards of $6,500 related to Zeta. This estimation includes the following: (new member fees and dues on all levels, state conference registration and related fees, regional conference and related fees, Boule' and related fees, and then misc. because all new members need paraphernalia :)

The breakdown for a new member, in her first year, could look like this:

After the first year, costs will likely decrease. Here is what it might look like during a Boule' Year, if you attend a state and regional conference in the same year as Boule':

During a Non-Boule' Year, you might decide to attend ZOL Training. Your costs for the year might look like this:

Perhaps, you are ZOL Certified (or not), a regular Non-Boule year might look like this:

Assume, the amounts above are for Graduate Members and that the Undergraduate cost of membership is 75% of those totals. So, the annual cost of membership is estimated to range between $6,600 Graduate ($4,950 UG) for a new member and $3,000 Graduate ($2,250 UG) per year, thereafter. Additionally, these amounts do not take into consideration any increase in dues over the years, or the additional money you may spend for sorority housing, local chapter events, fundraisers, assessments, community service events, wardrobe, or other special activities related to the sorority, and remember, we are on the Journey to Centennial, which will culminate with a once in a lifetime celebration in 2020 in honor of our beloved Founders and the sorority's founding, an epic milestone in our history that no Zeta on the planet wants to miss!!!!!

The cost per year also depends on if you attend all conferences and Boule' or ZOL in a given year. Unfortunately for me, and so many other sorors, my State and Region have conferences every year, even during a Boule' year. There is inconsistency throughout the sisterhood in this regard. So, depending on your state and/ or region, and whether you are active in Zeta outside your local chapter, your cost will be on the high end of the spectrum. While sorors who don't have so many conferences during a Boule year, will have costs on the lower end of the spectrum. Somehow, that doesn't seem to balance out, and I know for many of us, it causes concern. The numbers above, are obviously estimates, and don't take a lot of variables into consideration, but I think you get the picture. Share this information with prospective members, share it with members of your chapter, and other sorors you know. Sharing is caring! "When you know better, you do better"...right? It has been said time and time again, Zeta is not a right, it is a privilege, and it is, a quite luxurious one. It is important to participate and expose yourself to Zeta (the sorority) and Zetas (other sorors) beyond your local chapter, even beyond your own state and region, so prepare yourself and include conference attendance in your annual budget. Budget for Zeta expenses just like you do for other things.

Now, that you know what you can possibly expect each year based on your plan and the estimates, consider what value and ROI (Return on Investment) you should be looking for in the conferences you plan to attend. Our money is hard-earned, and we need to ensure that we get the best value for it; and we need to know, see, and be able to experience what we are paying for. Based on your feedback, for a great many of you, it seems that's not the case, and oftentimes you leave a conferences wondering what it was you paid for. We must do better.

Standardization and consistency across the sisterhood is imperative, especially to the end that it is the RIGHT thing to do and especially if it helps us cut costs, while still being able to accomplish our goals and fulfill our mission of being "community-conscious, and action-oriented". We have to consider operational and supporting financial decisions that are flexible enough to evolve with the needs and desires of the sisterhood, now and for future sustainability. As your next National Tamias, your concerns are priorities for me, because they are priorities for you.

So, be sure to look out for Part II of this series, as we take a closer look at the cost of Event Planning & Management.

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PROUDLY ENDORSED BY: OMEGA IOTA ZETA CHAPTER │ STATE OF MISSOURI │ MIDWESTERN REGION

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Soror Melissa Walton-Jones, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.

2020 Candidate for Re-Election: International Tamias