By Lynsey K. Freeman
Man ever before. Statistics show that, last year, 42 percent of women were the sole or primary breadwinner for their families. As a financial advisor and managing associate I am often surprised by how many successful, intelligent and well-educated women lack knowledge and motivation around investing and planning for retirement. As an entire gender, women have to step up and take charge.
Women generally view finance as a complex and overwhelming world. Unfortunately, natural stress reaction tends to result in avoidance. I know firsthand how sophisticated and intricate the topic is, but with proper education and conviction, women can break down these barriers that prevent them from confidently managing their financial lives.
Attempting to get to the bottom of this, the conversation I have with women often goes very similarly. It usually begins with, “Well, I know I should be doing something about my finances, BUT ….” These are understandable but avoidable barriers such as:
I don’t know where to start,
I don’t have enough knowledge,
The stock market is scary and I could lose money, or
My husband handles our investments.
These reactions all lead back to avoidance. Why is such an important realm of women’s lives avoided? These barriers women face surprisingly lead back to natural characteristics.
Women naturally have protective maternal instincts, which make them more reluctant to take risks. Over the long term, this can result in lower returns and the risk that retirement and investment accounts won’t keep pace with inflation.
Women err on the side of caution and privacy. Being naturally private people, women don’t seek advice or talk openly about their finances with friends, family or colleagues as often as men do.
Women live longer. As awesome as this is, it means women have to be even more diligent about stretching our retirement dollars most efficiently.Women are emotional creatures. Women don’t tend to connect well with the numbers, codes and symbols of the stock market. Investing money and being emotional don’t typically mesh well together. In the book “Market Mind Games,” author Denise Shull said, “It’s easy to think numbers are some mystical or mysterious math game, but in reality, the numbers only reflect what other human beings are thinking. Generally, women have shied away from math, and the markets have been portrayed as a math game. The math is just a clue to reading the other players.”
Women are forward thinkers that want to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. The thought of getting it wrong is enough to deter them from investing. This stems from a lack of education and confidence. Most women do think a lot about retirement, but are not necessarily taking the steps to properly plan for it.
A little caution paired with a little more effort will help women make the type of investment decisions that will help achieve their goals. Be patient. The good news is that it’s never too late to start taking action and you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. Do some research and find a financial advisor that you trust who can teach you more about the topic.
Let’s take charge and spread knowledge to networks of other women. The possibility for increasing awareness is more important than ever. Knowledge is power and the statistics show that we need to do something, and the earlier we start, the better.