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, founder of Wealth Enhancement Group and host of “Your Money” which airs on WCCO and eight other stations across Minnesota on Sunday mornings at 8:30 a.m. That, combined with a longer life span and the fact that many women take time out of the workforce to care for their children and/or aging parents (preventing them from saving and accumulating 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.
So why is it that more women aren’t taking a pro-active stance when it comes to their finances? Mostly, it boils down to confidence.
“I find women have a great fear about money,” says Nicole N. Middendorf, CDFA, CEO Prosperwell Financial, LPL financial advisor. “It could be something that happened to us when we were growing up, or an experience we had watching Mom or Dad with money.”
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.
The first step in taking control of your financial situation is sitting down and working through a financial plan that addresses your needs. Most financial advisors offer free consultations, says Middendorf. “Figure out what your net worth is, develop a budget, determine how your money is being invested and find out your credit score,” she says. “There are so many things you can do to know more about your money, and each time you learn something, you will feel more in control.”
Learn more about women and finances at Minnesota Monthly’s Women’s Link half-day event November 5 at Orchestra Hall. Nicole Middendorf will be a speaker for two of the break-out sessions, “Women, Money and Happiness” and “Face Your Financial Fears.”