Yes, you, a woman, are likely sexist against women, and more specifically, against yourself. CNBC reports that studies are showing gender stereotypes that made their way into your psyche when you were in high school are still lingering in your brain and affecting your confidence in your abilities. Most noticeably, women tend to report much lower confidence in their mathematics skills than men do, often starting in high school (that’s right, girls believe they are just as capable as boys at math in elementary school). The interesting part? This is in direct contrast with the facts. Studies show minuscule differences in actual ability between genders.
Gender stereotypes we pick up in high school don’t just affect the way we talk about math class in high school (and later the degrees we choose to pursue in college), they affect our financial lives as strong, independent adults. Competent, professional women are uncomfortable talking about or taking charge of their financial lives. This is a big deal.
Not only do women rate their investing abilities lower than men do, we also seek out financial guidance significantly less than men do. In a 2013 study by Fidelity Investments, only 12 percent of Millennial women in a “couples relationship” reported holding a primary role in the family’s investing decisions. We’re talking about “the generation that has graduated more women from college than men and have made the most strides in the workforce,” says Kathleen Murphy, president of Personal Investing at Fidelity.
Women have made strides in gaining equality and making a voice for themselves recently. In the age of the Me Too movement, feminism and body positivity, we are bringing to light major issues in the way society treats women. Yet, somehow, we’ve left this important aspect of gender stereotyping behind, allowing it to take root and grow in our minds and the minds of young girls and women everywhere.
Women still earn less than men and face opportunity-for-advancement discrimination. This means that in order to have true independence, we as women “have to work harder, save more, and be our own advocates,” says Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, certified financial planner and author of a nationally syndicated personal finance column. To keep moving forward and claim our rightful and equal standing in the professional and personal world, we need to be able to successfully manage our finances. Without financial freedom, how much freedom do you really have?
HOW TO TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR FINANCES
If you’re ready to take control of your financial health and, ultimately, your independence, Schwab-Pomerantz goes into detail about four ways to start in her Parade.com article, “Ask Carey: Women and Money: Why It’s Important to Take Control of Your Finances.” In summary, she suggests we:
- Prioritize retirement
- When you start saving for retirement is a big deal. If you start with your first paycheck when you’re in your 20s, “you can comfortably save about 10-15 percent of your annual salary (including any contributions from your employer) and you may not have to increase that percentage for the rest of your working years,” says Schwab-Pomerantz. Starting later could mean having to put away more than 25 percent of your annual salary each year. That’s a significant difference.
- Don’t just save – invest
- When it comes to long-term financial planning, putting your money in the dirt just isn’t enough. If you want to be living comfortably in your later years, you need to make your money work for you. “You ideally want a diversified portfolio that’s positioned for growth,” says Schwab-Pomerantz. Yes, there’s some risk, but making smart decisions doesn’t mean making decisions on your own.
- Team up with an adviser
- A financial planner can help you build a sturdy and diversified portfolio, especially when you’re just starting out. Schwab-Pomerantz suggests finding an adviser who understands your goals and who you communicate well with.
- Have a financial plan
- The financial plan is the all-encompassing road map for your financial life. It’s a holistic look at all the interrelated pieces of the financial puzzle and can provide a lot of guidance and comfort when it comes to the way you manage your money says Schwab-Pomerantz. She says your plan “reviews your income, expenses, investments, retirement planning, insurance coverage, income tax liability, estate planning needs and—most importantly—how they all work together.”
Financial independence isn’t just about how much money you have. It’s also about having the confidence to make decisions and standing up for yourself.Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz
The only thing better than claiming your financial freedom is empowering your fellow vinas to do the same. Find your next financial planning buddy (or buddies!) on the Hey! VINA app today!