When I hear the words “women and empowerment” together in a sentence, I feel a renewed sense of optimism. For far too long, our concerns have been ignored. We’ve had to tolerate inequality. We’ve had to endure industries that don’t get us, and don’t think they need to get us. And while we are a long way from seeing “equality” in that sense, this past year, the #metoo and #timesup movement has thrown women’s grievances into the spotlight.
We’ve witnessed the power women’s voices have generated. And I truly believe our collective voices will only get stronger and summon change in many more areas of our lives.
I’m hopeful that one of those areas will be women’s financial empowerment. Women have more wealth than ever before. But how we manage and leverage that wealth has yet to keep pace. I recognise that this is sometimes hard to see, but we do have the ability to influence how we achieve our financial freedom. And yes, that also means we can and must demand that financial companies wake up and service us in a way that speaks to our needs and challenges – whether that’s supporting our personal financial planning, accommodating our investment philosophy or just plain listening to us.
How do we do this? If you believe in these words of wisdom “Be the change you want to see in the world” then you’ll know that first, we women need to embrace our own financial power. After all, why should any bank representative or advisor care about our own needs if we don’t start looking at our needs first!
Ready to boost your financial empowerment? Here are six strategies for you.
Create a Plan
It seems obvious but sometimes its so obvious it’s forgotten. Having a personal financial plan where you have your short-term, medium-term and long-term goals laid out with a map of how you’ll reach them is the foundation of real financial empowerment. Women view their life more holistically. Creating a plan that accounts for different financial aspects of your and your family’s life no matter what stage you’re in (investing, protection, education, retirement, estate planning) will give you clarity of where you are and where you’re going.
Save first. Spend later
Financially empowered women know that putting away money for their future goals first before paying for expenses is a savvy way – the only way – to reach financial freedom. Why? Because they know saving what’s left after expenses is not planning or prioritizing themselves. They also know that relying on willpower when they’re busy juggling a hundred things is a sure way to go off track. They know “out of sight-out of mind” works. So get saving and pay yourself first.
Real financial empowerment is when you, and you alone take control of your security and life’s purpose.
Own Your Finances
It’s easy to hand over the financial responsibility to your partner or family member and rationalise that you’re too busy or finance is “just not your thing”. Being financially empowered means you are aware of where the money is coming from, where it’s going, how it’s invested, and how you and your family are financially protected should anything unforeseen happen. It’s okay to split the responsibilities when it comes to money, but it’s not healthy to turn a blind eye to it. Have regular discussions on the status of your finances as a couple and perhaps even as a family. Own your part. No one will know what money values you hold except for you and your finances should be reflected in how you want to live your life.
Make the Financial Market Your Friend
I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again – the most effective way a woman can grow her wealth is by creating a diversified portfolio that’s invested in stocks, bonds and other alternative assets such as real estate, commodities etc. The power of compounding where the earnings earn money has a remarkable snowball effect. In todays’ world, where women make on average 24% less than men, we need to be smarter with our money. Investing is gold when it comes to building financial security.
Being financially empowered means you talk about money. You won’t shy away from issues and challenges because you know everyone has them and the only way to achieve one’s financial goals is to lay all the cards on the table and deal with it with a positive attitude. You will also not let the financial industry “mansplain” financial planning and investing, or talk you into buying a product or service you don’t understand. You’ll ask questions and you’ll expect your needs to be understood.
Go for Balance
Women are great at balancing a lot of priorities (even when it feels like they’re not). Financially empowered ladies apply the same logic when it comes to their money. They understand that when it comes to spending and saving there doesn’t need to be extremes. There’s no need for hoarding cash or depriving themselves of buying things they love. They understand there’s wisdom in delaying some gratification for greater rewards later. They balance their portfolios. They balance their approach to managing all aspects of their money, recognising that “Rome was not built in one day”.