Got My Own Mind, I Wanna Make My Own Decisions

Many women are balancing several priorities—career, family, friends, and other obligations. Often, investing gets lost in the shuffle, meaning women may not be ensuring that the money they’ve worked so hard to earn is working hard for them. According to recent research by Fidelity Investments, only 4% of women spearhead their family’s investment strategy. Among affluent women, 80% consider themselves “beginner investors,” compared with 50% of men.

One would think it might be different for younger women - it’s not. Only one in eight Gen Y women (born 1978–1988) call themselves the primary decision maker when it comes to personal finance. And only 9% are confident about managing investments.

And yet 90% of women will have to manage their finances on their own at some point in their life. They may leave the workforce to care for a sick family member, become divorced, or find themselves widowed.

So how can women take control of their financial future?

Below are five tips recently shared at a Fidelity event on empowering women. Feel free to share them with women you care about—your mother, daughter, sister, and friends.

1. Believe that you can.

Attitude is everything. The fundamentals of investing can seem intimidating, but it's not hard. It just requires some effort to learn the fundamentals. It’s all about setting goals, creating a long-term plan, and sticking to that plan. These are things women are especially good at.

2. Talk to family and loved ones.

Money should not be a taboo subject. If you’re married or in a relationship, don’t defer all financial matters to your partner. You don’t need to be equally engaged day to day if you don’t want to be, but you should have regular conversations—annually at the bare minimum—and establish a core understanding of your savings, investments, and goals.

3. Do your homework.

Access the resources around you to set your long-term goals, invest your money against those goals, and watch it develop over time. Once you’re educated and involved in your investment plan, don’t let daily fluctuations in the market rattle you. If your instincts tell you to get more help and information, do so. Work with a trusted financial professional or use online tools to understand the investments you own or that you need to add to your portfolio. There are a plethora of free resources available.

4. Don’t delay.

 If you start at age 25 and save $50 more per month in an IRA or 401(k) until you are 67, you could potentially receive approximately $390 in additional pretax retirement income a month in retirement. Waiting until you are 35 reduces that additional monthly income almost by half. Really, it’s a simple formula—the earlier you start investing, the better off and more confident you’ll be. Put that hard-earned money to work for you.

5. Make it a priority.

By ‘it,’ we mean ‘you.’ Women work hard for their families, for their advancement, their progress; they work hard to live the life of their dreams. Make it happen. See it through. Take control of your dreams by taking control of your finances. You deserve it!