Those who know me know one of my passions is inspiring women to take financial responsibility for their lives. We live in a culture where girls are discouraged from taking an interest in math, finance and investing, yet women control more and more of the wealth in this country.
Longer life expectancies and a high divorce rate are two other critical reasons why women should take responsibility for their financial well-being.
Two areas bear the most attention by women: educating themselves on the basics on personal finance and investing and proactively managing their human capital.
It is in womens’ best interest to take some responsibility for their financial lives. A basic level of education on personal finance and investing is imperative. The reason it is so critical is that our society has changed a lot over the past 100 years. Today’s women are more likely to live on their own for a longer period of time during their lives. Women are marrying later, if at all, getting divorced more frequently, more likely to work outside the home and living longer. All of these reasons support a need for women to get smart about money. One of my favorite books to help with this process is Barbara Stanny’s Prince Charming Isn’t Coming. While I don’t love the title, the content is spot on, easy to read and helpful. Another good read is the Elements of Investing by Burton Malkiel.
While I don’t necessarily advocate that women take over managing all aspects of their financial lives, they need to be educated enough to ask smart questions. If they don’t know the right questions to ask or understand the answers, then they won’t know if the person they have outsourced some aspect of their finances to is doing a good job or not.
Other ways to get smarter about money include:
- Find a money mentor
- Set a goal of reading at least one financial article per week
- Start paying attention to your investments and cash flow
- Ask questions of those who provide your financial services
Manage Your Human Capital
While important for everyone, managing one’s human capital is particularly important for women. This is especially true of women who have taken time off to raise a family. I hear too many stories of women struggling to re-enter the workforce and taking big pay cuts to do so. And then there are the sad stories of women who get divorced and must drastically reduce their lifestyle because their earning power is much lower after raising kids.
Human capital can be enhanced in a variety of different ways. The most common ways are:
- Getting an education
- Working with a career or life coach
- Negotiating for what you are worth
- Building and maintain your network
While not an exhaustive list, hopefully this article has helped you understand why it is important to take responsibility for your personal finances and given you a few ideas of ways you can do so.