By Brittany Heard, lead adviser, Foster Group
In my role as a financial adviser, I get to meet with a variety of people from different stages of life who have different experiences with money. Some women I meet are very interested in finances and others feel insecure when it comes to talking through investments or their financial plans.
In many households, one spouse often handles the finances while the other spouse handles other tasks. Division of labor is important to avoid one person managing everything, but when women don’t have active roles in the finances, they can often get left behind and lose confidence when discussing money.
Women currently influence nearly half the wealth in the United States and will likely influence 75% of the wealth by 2030. I meet with many widows and divorcees who have never been involved in their family’s finances. These women must quickly learn how to manage their financial affairs after years of letting their spouses do this work.
One of my personal goals as an adviser is to help women feel more confident and engaged when it comes to money and finances.
Here are a few things women can do right now:
1. Review your bank and investment statements. Simply looking at your accounts monthly will help you see how much you earn, spend, save and give. Having a good understanding of what’s happening to your money on a month-to-month basis is imperative to plan for your financial future. There are several apps that can help you create and manage a budget.
2. Talk about finances. Talk to your friends about how they invest. Ask if they are saving into a retirement account or how they plan to achieve their financial goals. While individuals need to save and invest differently based on their personal situations, we need to talk more about finances to eliminate the taboo of talking about money.
3. Ask questions. When you are in a meeting with your financial adviser and don’t understand something, ask them to clarify. All good advisers enjoy the opportunity to help you understand what’s going on with your money, and most want to learn how to do this in a way that’s easy to understand!
4. Embrace investing and give yourself credit. Don’t make negative assumptions about your knowledge of investments because you are just beginning and don’t know everything. Perhaps you know more than you think you know. Also, it takes time to learn anything new. Being part of the investing process will help you learn and give you more confidence. Confidence comes from trial and error, study and practice. You don’t have to know everything, but you should work to learn something new each time you meet with your financial adviser.
5. Lean on your financial adviser. I recently started working with a woman whose husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Prior to his diagnosis, he handled all their finances. She was anxious about managing things without his help. After a few meetings, she let me know that she was starting to sleep better at night because she knew she had a partner to help her handle the finances. Once she understood the plan and trusted the advice I was giving, her anxiety virtually vanished. This story, by the way, reminds me why I love my job and why it’s actually good to lean on others for support.
I hope to see more women feeling confident as they talk about and manage their finances. Pick one thing to get started. Perhaps it’s reviewing bank statements and investment accounts, starting a budgeting app, or meeting with a financial adviser. Let’s start talking about money, how it affects us as women, and how we can have more influence on our financial situations.