Personal Finance for Women

Women tend to talk differently, respond differently, and think differently than men when it comes to money. They also have less wiggle room to make mistakes. Despite the impressive strides women have made in the workforce and the greater economic clout they wield as a result, “Unfairly, women—on average—earn less than men,” says Bruce Helmer, co-founder of Wealth Enhancement Group, author of Money and the People You Love, and host of “Your Money” on WCCO and WLTE FM. That, combined with a longer life span and the fact that many women take time off to care for their children and/or aging parents (preventing them from saving at the rate of a person working full-time for 40 years) add up to the simple fact that their money has to last longer.

Now vs. future

If a woman doesn’t have a long-term financial plan in place, or if she relies on her spouse to do the “big-picture” thinking, she can wind up feeling overwhelmed and vulnerable should the “unplanned” (death of a spouse) or “unexpected” (divorce) happen in life. Approximately 90 percent of women will be in charge of their finances during their lifetime, says Janel Goff, managing director – investments at Benjamin F. Edwards & Co. and The Goff Investment Group. Goff believes so strongly in educating women about their finances that she started the “Invest In Yourself” seminar 18 years ago to bring women together and educate them about achieving financial security.

So why aren’t more women taking a pro-active stance when it comes to their finances? Mostly, it boils down to confidence.

According to a reader survey about gender and money on, 31.8 percent of women labeled themselves conservative investors, compared to 21.7 percent of men. The survey found that many women take a more “supportive” fiscal approach, focusing on money maintenance—or holding on to what they have—instead of taking steps to advance it.  

Many women approach finances as a now-money orientation (spending on things that enhance day-to-day living), according to Jay MacDonald at Men, on the other hand, view money as a means to capture and accumulate value. “Men don’t spend, they invest,” he says. “Theirs is a future-money orientation.”

And while women and men may think differently when it comes to finances, Helmer says women tend to get a bad reputation as being poor money managers. “Women are just as capable as men. In fact, the same characteristics that make men refuse to stop and ask for directions make men more dangerous to themselves. They think they know what to do; they don’t need any help from anyone. Women are more likely to say ‘Let’s defer to
the experts.’”

Women are also better at identifying their core values—or what’s really important to them. “When financial decisions are made with reflection on those core values, people tend to make better decisions,” he says.

Action plan

The first step in taking control of your financial situation is sitting down and working through a financial plan that addresses your needs, Goff says. “Evaluate where you are today, and where you’re trying to go.”  

A financial advisor can help construct a plan of action with investments, asset allocations, and risks associated with those investments.

“I think it’s important to know what’s expected of you on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis,” Goff explains. “Do you need to work on saving more to meet your retirement goal? If so, you need to watch daily spending and saving.  If you don’t have a daily budget, you most likely will overspend and at the end of the month, have zero to save. Are you investing monthly into your company’s 401k?  Do you understand your investments or asset allocations? Get a second opinion or review if you don’t.  Each year you need to have a financial plan in place to achieve your goals.  If you don’t have a plan, you probably won’t have financial success
or security.”

What are you waiting for? Now is the time to take action.

To contact Janel Goff, call 612-926-8680.  
To contact Bruce Helmer, call 952-249-4885.