The financial landscape for women is changing rapidly. There is an increasing number of women in the C-Suite and starting new businesses. The gender pay gap is decreasing. More women than men have recovered jobs that were lost during the recession. And according to Investment News, some $22 trillion in assets will shift to women by 2020, in part as a result of these advances they’re making in the workforce, and in part because they will outlive their husbands.
Unfortunately, we find that even with the strong developments being made by women, many females are still fearful of finances. In 2015, Fidelity Investments conducted a survey titled the Money Fit Women Study. Consider the following:
- 60% of women say they are concerned about having enough savings to last throughout retirement.
- Just 45% say they are confident talking about money and investments with a financial professional.
- 37% of those surveyed reported insecurity due to not having researched their options.
- 36% say they lack confidence because they lack experience with money.
- 36% say they worry about not knowing who to talk to in order to get the best financial advice.
- 80% of women refrained at some point in their lives from talking about their finances to people they are close with.
The above statistics are worrisome, particularly given the large wealth transfer from men to women within the next few years. There’s no better time than the present for women to begin replacing their fear of finances with confidence and knowledge. Here are a few ways to begin:
1. Education. Personally, I’m a fan of the quote “what you don’t know can hurt you” and believe the first step towards women feeling confident with their finances is to educate themselves. Full financial literacy won’t happen overnight, so it’s best to start with bite size pieces. For example, understanding simple investment terms, learning how to prepare a budget, and becoming knowledgeable about what’s currently happening with our economy are three easy places to start. Luckily, there’s a plethora of information on the internet that can help in all of these areas. From online investment dictionaries like Investopedia to interactive budgeting tools, any information we need or want is at our fingertips.
2. Take responsibility. Many married women tend to put their husbands in full control of their finances. Instead of making it a one way street, women might consider taking a slice of the financial responsibility and owning it to the best of their ability. Once they’ve mastered one area of the family’s finances, they can take on another.
3. Speak to a financial advisor. Sitting down with a financial professional is generally time well spent. A financial professional can analyze your current financial position, discuss your goals and objectives, and come up with a plan that is suitable for your specific circumstances. Keep in mind that you want to speak with a financial advisor that is focused on customizing a plan tailor-made for you. Be sure this is someone that you can talk to openly and honestly. Before you go through the process of hiring a financial advisor, be sure that all of your questions regarding fees are answered. Tap your friends or family members to see if they have the name of a trusted advisor. If your attempts to find a professional through word of mouth don’t work, one helpful website is www.napfa.org. NAPFA is the National Association of Personal Finance Advisors. Simply input your zip code as directed and their directory will help you locate a fee-only advisor in your area.
4. Sign up with a digital advisor. If sitting across from a financial advisor doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, then consider signing up with a digital advisor. Digital advisors take the hybrid approach- while all of your financial planning is automated, there’s also an opportunity to speak to a live advisor should you have specific needs. Most digital advisors come with a bevy of online tools and calculators that can help you create budgets, set goals, and analyze your overall financial picture. Don’t forget to check out the great blogs on these sites- you’ll find a ton of valuable thought leadership and additional resources that will help you out.
5. Set goals. Last but not least, try goal setting. Maybe your goal is to take control of a certain area of your finances by year end. Or perhaps it’s challenging yourself to learn the investing basics or determining how much you will need for a happy retirement. Set your goals, write them down, and take inventory of how well you did at a set point in the future.