The month of March is a great time to talk about women taking control of their money. March is Women’s History Month and March 8th is International Women’s Day. Both designations urge women to become active in working for a more equitable world for women, whether in politics, business or personal relations. They advocate that by women taking control of their financial lives, they can be a major player in their drive for a gender equal world.
Financial independence for men or women isn’t just about how much money you have, it’s also about having the knowledge and confidence to manage, sustain and make your own decisions about it. Women, married or single, need to be in control of their financial lives, as it not only means being strong individually, but also being a strong partner and a strong member of their community.
Many women view achieving this goal as a daunting task. Statistics have shown that women face real challenges. Women live longer than men and earn less than men. More than 44% of women over 65 are widows and the average widow outlives her husband by 14 years. Earning less income not only reduces retirement income, including the Social Security benefit, but coupled with living longer, women frequently face a large retirement funding gap. Unfortunately, it is true that women are often faced with discrimination in terms of wages and advancement opportunities, plus they are also known for putting others’ needs first, such as raising children or taking care of aging family members.
Taking all this into consideration, it’s not surprising that some women don’t know how to get started. Of course, the younger you are when starting anything, the easier it is – and in the case of finances, the sooner you start saving, the faster your money will grow. It’s always good to save, but it is vitally important to pay off high-interest rate debt before you increase saving. With debt gone, you can dedicate more money to increase the amount you are saving and compound interest will quickly grow your dollars.
At the same time, educate yourself about money management and investing. Read books or articles or search online for topics of interest. This means getting the basics of budgeting, saving and investing – depending upon your level of understanding. It’s a powerful feeling to actually understand and have control of what you’re doing! So, do what you can to take charge of your financial future. For example, take full advantage of a company retirement plan by contributing at least what the company match is, more if you can. If your company does not have a 401(k) plan, open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).
As Fee-Only Certified Financial Planner™ professionals, we would also urge you to consider enlisting the services of a financial Fiduciary. A knowledgeable, experienced and trusted fiduciary planner can provide you with the financial education you are looking for, as they help you navigate the confusing and complex world of investing. Best wishes for your financial success and have a great weekend!