I can’t be the only one who squirms and silences a scream whenever conversations of money, investing, and retirement funds arise...
My hunch was confirmed after discovering these facts about women and financial literacy:
- The average woman has ⅓ as much saved for retirement as their male counterparts
- In a study, 61% of women said they would rather talk about death than money
- Women owe two thirds of all student debt in America, even though they make up 56% of college graduates.
- Women are 80% more likely to be in poverty after retirement than men.
Scary...right? Here are the facts: it’s still embedded in our culture that men are the breadwinners. Though the tides are turning on this ancient narrative, the movement to empower women to learn about money management and financial literacy has yet to catch up. And if you are a business owner or entrepreneur, this adds an extra layer of confusion to managing your finances. So, we can bury our heads in the sand and only look at our bank statements when tax time rolls around (eeeek!) or we can choose to become empowered.
I made it one of my 2020 goals to get my finances in order. I’m certainly not in heaps of debt or worrying about losing the roof over my head. But I hated the feeling of not knowing where my money was going every month and not being in control of one of the biggest aspects of owning a business. I hated admitting to other business owners that I don’t have a retirement fund and I still don’t pay myself a salary. But most of all, I hated not feeling independent. Finances felt like the final thing holding me back from being an empowered female.
At first I went to a (male) financial planner who told me to save $2000 per month ASAP. Um yeah...but what about living the rest of my life? He didn’t tell me how to save, where to cut expenses and how to still enjoy my life while building up my savings. And then I started crowdsourcing from other female business owners.
I received so many tips about using Ellevest. It’s this awesome women owned company that wants to mind the gender pay gap and empower women to be financially savvy. Why aren’t women investing? It might be because 86% of investment advisors are male with an average age of 50+. Ellevest wants to change the narrative about investing and planning for retirement.
I also heard a lot about the She Makes Money Moves podcast. This podcast features unscripted conversations of real women with real world financial problems talking to female financial experts. I have loved every episode I’ve listened to, partially because it normalizes what I’m going through. It reminds me that I’m not failing, and I’m making the moves to be better with finances.
And lastly, my very smart mentor suggested I hook up with a financial coach. My first thought was, ugh, I’m trying to save money, not spend more money! But she assured me it would be worth every dollar. I started working with a financial coach about 4 weeks ago. She used to work in corporate finances and left her job to start working with real people who want to get their money in order. So far, we’ve talked a lot about my values and how I think about money. AKA I see it as scary and confusing and I would rather ignore it. What I’ve loved is that my financial coach took the time to understand what is important to me about life and how I want to live my life. So, instead of laying down a command to save $2000 per month, we’re sectioning out what I want to save for (i.e. travel without credit card debt), and small adjustments I can make in my monthly expenses that won’t even feel like a sacrifice (like changing what internet provider I have for a cheaper bill.) We still have a lot of work to do, and my stomach still drops before every call I have with her. But I can already see my behaviors and thinking shift about money.
Ladies, I know money and finances is scary AF. But talking about it and learning about it are two ways to change the tides of financial literacy and freedom.