I want to chat about an aspect of personal finances that causes women THE most stress and concern.
The reason this matters is because it’s also the part that plays a huge role in your financial well-being. Ignore it and life will eventually become, well, challenging, to say the very least.
Yes, even if you win the lottery (not looking like a probable outcome anyway).
First, let me ask you this: What part of your finances makes you feel the least confident?
I bet I know.
I’m not being presumptuous; I’m using odds and research.
What I discovered in 2017 🔍
In September of 2017, I launched a research project in which I interviewed women from coast to coast to coast in Canada. I wanted to know where women felt confident when it comes to their finances and where they felt they needed help.
It was meant to be an exploration of how women rate themselves in the core areas of financial literacy.
The women I interviewed ranged in age from their mid-twenties to their seventies.
They ran the gamut of demographics: single, married, LGBTQ+, students, out of work, salaried, self-employed, broke, wealthy, kids, no kids – you name it.
I had a couple of hypotheses going into my project regarding what I’d find.
Boy was I off by a country mile!
One of my working hypotheses was that women would tell me they needed help optimizing money management.
In fact, what they told me is that they feel pretty solid when it comes to money management. On the whole, they rated themselves almost 8 out of 10 in terms of their confidence level with managing their dollars.
The picture became a little more complicated when I dug more deeply into this:
They don’t have a “real system”.
They are often unsure about the best choice when facing a decision like should they pay off more debt or save and invest?
Many were also stumped about how to pay off their debt more quickly.
They didn’t know where to start.
But they felt confident.
It gets more interesting 👀
Then we moved on to the topic of investing, and that’s when stuff hit the fan.
Out of 77 women interviewed, only a handful felt comfortable with investing.
Of that handful, most felt confident that their advisor was doing a good job for them; they had never invested their own money and they couldn’t tell me the first thing about it. There was total reliance on the advisor.
They also couldn’t tell me what their returns were for the past few years. They just knew that their money had grown.
Not how quickly.
Not by how much (1%? 3%? 6%? ….)
No benchmarks or comparison points.
And the rest of the women?
The topic alone caused their palms to sweat.
Some had zero investments and were totally stressed about that. “I wonder if it’s too late for me?” they asked.
Some had large chunks in savings accounts or in guaranteed investments because they only felt comfortable with guaranteed rates.
They knew the returns were very low and that their money was growing at a snail’s pace. “I worry that I won’t have enough at this rate,” they told me.
Most felt intimidated and overwhelmed by the topic.
There is just so much information out there and it all sounds like gibberish. How is a regular person supposed to know what to do or who to trust?
Then there was the issue of risk.
Can you imagine working so hard for your money, then losing it in the stock market? They’d heard stories of people losing everything.
Who can afford to have that happen?
“Can I give myself a zero?”
When I asked the women to rate their confidence level with investing on a scale from 1 to 10, in which 10 is “totally confident” and 1 is “I don’t feel confident at all”, that’s what many said to me.
They wanted to give themselves a zero.
They couldn’t even imagine themselves being on the scale – that’s how scary investing seemed to them.
The highest score in the self-assessment was an 8/10. The majority were below 5/10. One woman insisted that I write down -1 for her score.
The average was 4/10.
I get it.
That’s exactly where I was when I became a widow and faced a financial mess all those years ago.
Suddenly, I had to make sense of the stocks and holdings my late husband had purchased, without knowing a thing about it.
What I figured out very quickly is that most of those holdings had lost money. I started to wonder if investing in the stock market was like gambling.
The fact that I understood none of it scared the pants off me. How do you fix a problem you don’t understand?
So I wanted to hide, too. And above all, I wanted to keep my money safe.
Until I realized that you pay a big price for safety.
It costs you your future.
How about you?
If you, too, said that investing is the part of your personal finances where you feel the least confident, I hear you. Cut yourself some slack. You are in very good company!
Most women I speak with are afraid, intimidated, or overwhelmed by investing.
When faced with something that seems so unpleasant, the temptation is to hide. To avoid. To procrastinate. To abdicate.
But after living through this process myself and spending more than a decade working in financial literacy education, I can tell you that learning to invest is one of the most powerful things you can learn to do for yourself and your life.
The fastest way to build wealth is to grow your income.
The simplest way to build wealth is to learn to invest using an evidence-based system.
It won’t give you sexy, overnight results, but it will build wealth over time, using the magic of compounding.
The cool thing is that it’s totally doable, even if math isn’t your forte (that’s irrelevant).
And it will help you create a kick-ass future that brings you joy and fills your cup.
Use your words
Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to share educational videos and tips to help you understand some key aspects of investing and uncover some myths.
For today, we’ll start with your mindset.
If your first thoughts about investing are that it’s for fools and you want no part of it, you’re slamming the door closed to learning. Learning to invest will always seem impossible for you under these conditions.
Let’s start with a reframe. I suggest you write the following down on a post it note and read it every morning:
There is a way to invest your money that doesn’t involve guesswork or praying to every known deity for a positive outcome.
That’s where the research comes in. We’ll talk more about that soon.
For now, enjoy your positive script and let’s see if we can start to change the way more women feel about investing.
One last thing: I’d love to hear your stories about investing – the good, the bad, the ugly. Hit reply and fire away. What rating would you give yourself? Can’t wait to hear from you!
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