However, they still face a myriad of financial challenges:
- The wage gap
- Building enough savings to last through a longer life expectancy
- Managing diverse life journeys that can include physically and financially caring for children and aging parents
While these challenges won’t disappear overnight, there is one thing you can do to improve your outlook: take charge of your finances. Here, Mary Martuscelli, West Region president of U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management, shares four ways you can feel more confident in your financial life.
1. Learn the basics
Basic financial education is critical in helping you feel empowered. Know your credit history and build a good credit report. Recognize the difference between saving and investing and why both are important. Understand how investments work and what fees are associated with them.
“At the end of the day, the more knowledge you have, the better prepared you’re going to be as you move through your life,” Martuscelli says.
2. Engage with women in your community
You may know women who have faced or are facing similar financial issues. Talking with and learning from a friend or colleague can be very helpful. Ask for recommendations and talk about obstacles. You may even want to consider sharing your salary – doing so could help you prepare to negotiate your compensation.
“I see women starting investment clubs, bringing together eight to 10 women a month to discuss a chosen financial topic. It can be a good way to educate yourself and your peers in a comfortable environment,” says Martuscelli.
3. Approach your finances as a team
If you live with a partner, oftentimes one individual in a household takes care of all the finances. In one study, 52 percent of women said they’re the chief financial officer of the household. One problem with that dynamic, however, is if that individual passes away, the rest of the family is left without an understanding of their financial situation.
Martuscelli advises approaching your family’s finances as a team effort. “Make sure everyone understands your family’s core values when it comes to money. And, I cannot stress this enough, have your financial documents in order, and be sure your family is aware of and has access to them. Having a living will and financial power of attorney designated can provide peace of mind for all involved if they’re ever needed,” she says.
4. Consider working with a financial professional
Martuscelli advises engaging a financial professional early in your career, if you can. “Talk about different investment options that are in line with your time horizon and risk tolerance. Think about how long you really want to work and make sure you communicate that,” she says. “The more you let a financial professional know what your time frame is, the better she will be able to assist you in a customized approach to reaching your financial goals.”
Martuscelli encourages regular meetings — monthly, quarterly, or annually — to discuss your overall financial plan. “If there’s a shift in your financial goals, like starting a family or a new business, bring them into the conversation so they can provide financial advice as you move through these life changes,” she adds.
Taking an active role in your finances gives you more confidence to work toward your goals, and that starts with building on what you know. As Martuscelli says, “A trusted professional can help set you on the right course, but your own financial education will go a long way in helping you make decisions unique to your needs and aspirations.”