What Women Breadwinners Need to Know About Wealth
Have you ever walked into a financial planning office hoping to come away with a better understanding of your money and how to make the most of it -- only to walk out feeling like you weren’t heard, or your specific needs weren’t addressed?
You’re not alone. While financial advisors rarely intentionally or deliberately shun women, you may find that many advisors are working from outdated assumptions about household wealth, how women manage money and who makes the financial decisions in a family.
This is a common problem many women face when they’re ready to proactively take charge of their money and seek professional advice on growing wealth. And it’s a problem which needs to be solved as women make more of their own money than ever.
Increasingly, we’re not only responsible for handling the household finances, but more households feature female breadwinners, too. It’s time for those women breadwinners to step up, claim their power and know how to use their money wisely.
The power of women breadwinners (and how we tend to lose it)
Women in American control a large portion of the country’s wealth, and that trend will only increase as the number of women executives, entrepreneurs and high-earning, highly-skilled employees continues to rise.
In fact, we officially control over half the household wealth in the U.S. And we’re actually better at making it grow. There’s plenty of evidence that points to the fact that women are often better investors than men.
However, there are challenges that can stop you from exercising your power when it comes to money. First of all, there are few financial advisors available to serve as trusted experts on your team, considering the huge lack of diversity (gender and otherwise) in financial services.
Secondly, financial education for both genders is lacking, and historically, women have allowed men to make the financial decisions in a household. If this trend continues, you could put yourself at serious risk in the future.
In addition, women tend to live longer than men. Divorce rates are still high, although lower than they used to be -- but some women are putting off marriage for longer or foregoing it altogether. That’s largely exactly because of our increased economic power!
In many cases, women still face an uphill battle when it comes to their careers and earning at their highest potential. While progress has been made, there are still concerns about glass ceilings, pay gaps and time out of the workforce (since women, even in high-powered careers, are still primary caregivers in most families).
All these factors mean that, at some point in your life, you’ll likely need to manage your own money, and waiting to develop smart, strategic financial habits may leave you struggling to build wealth.
How to harness your power and take charge of your financial future
As a woman -- whether married, single or in a partnership -- your long-term financial health depends on your ability to:
- Understand your money -- and take control of it
- Take responsibility for knowing the ins and outs of your household’s finances
- Know how to invest wisely to grow wealth
But, how do you do it? Where do you start?
Understand the basics and the “why” behind common advice and recommendations is a great first step to financial independence. Educating yourself will help you feel more confident about making decisions -- and making the best choices for you.
A great place to start that education is online. Blogs and podcasts are available to help establish a solid foundation for your financial education, and many are focused specifically on helping women better understand how to invest their money.
You don’t have to go it alone, though (even if you’re up for the challenge of taking charge of your wealth on your own). The right financial planner can serve as a coach, guide and expert advisor when you need someone to show you the way -- and leave you feeling empowered and capable.
The bottom line for female breadwinners is understanding that the right financial knowledge and support can put you in a position to create wealth and take control of the future you want.
(By Kathleen Godfrey. Godfrey is president and CEO of Godfrey Financial Associates, Inc.)