Just like an annual physical exam, it is helpful to take a look at your financial health at least once a year. Having the knowledge to not only handle money responsibly, but to use it to create the life you want, and that reflects who you are, improves all aspects of your day-to-day living.
WOMEN AND THE POWER OF MONEY
More women are now making the financial decisions for their family, including investment decisions. According to the Family Wealth Advisors Council, nearly 95% of women will be their family’s primary decision maker at some point in their lives!
When it comes to your finances, consider the growth of women and money decisions:
- In four of 10 American families, the woman is the breadwinner
- Women account for more than 40% of all Americans with gross investable assets of more than $600,000 and 48% of the country’s millionaires
- An estimated $25 trillion will accrue to women through 2030 via generational and spousal transfers. By then, at least two-thirds of the nation’s wealth will be in women’s hands.
KNOW YOUR MONEY PERSONALITY
Financial stress is a significant factor in sleep deprivation, strained relationships, and anxiety that robs the joy of life. Just like your physical health, your financial health includes being informed and knowledgeable about your money. Discover and embrace your money personality.
How do you feel about money? It’s good to be clear and honest about how your parents and/or spouse handle money decisions and how that has affected your own financial navigation, but their approaches may or may not make sense for you and the chapter of life you are in.
In general, women put energy into the areas they care deeply about, and how they behave with money is a gauge that reflects these values. Just as women are carefully reading food labels and alter household purchases to keep their families healthy, they are also thinking through the impact of their money. What kind of company or service do they want to support or avoid to match their value system? Just as we read the ingredients of peanut butter or get locally grown food, we can also choose to invest in and support companies that use a triple bottom line philosophy. This means that a company not only pays attention to making a profit, it is also socially and environmentally responsible. There are now over 2,000 certified B Corporations, companies that use business as a force for good.
KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE AND WHAT YOU NEED
Look at your financial situation and have a basic understanding—it is NOT okay to abdicate all money decisions to your spouse, parents or even your financial advisor.
Be sure your lifestyle matches your current income—if not , figure out where the leak is. Are you keeping up with your friends, or are you spending money in ways that match who you are?
Look at where and how you spend money. Do you spend on necessity or impulse? Try the “sleep on it overnight” idea before purchasing—are you still thinking about the item the next day?
Find your “peace place”—where you feel like you have enough money and can approach life with an attitude of abundance rather than scarcity. Health is defined as a balanced system—if you feel too deprived you are not in balance, and if there is no discipline or watch on your money, you live in denial until the creditors start calling (and that certainly feels out of balance)!
If you have money to invest (savings, a 401K from a prior job, legal settlement or an inheritance) take a look at the time frame before you need the money, and select investments that match your values. This method of investing provides a sense of empowerment and validates that your money is deployed in ways that use business as a force for good.
Don’t let money conversations intimidate you. So many women shut down when it comes to talking about money—work with someone you trust to describe it in ways that you understand and feel comfortable with the terminology. If you don’t understand something, keep asking questions, and if you aren’t a match for the financial person you are working with, take your business elsewhere. It can be liberating to determine that you really are on solid ground financially, and the financial plan for the future makes sense for you.
In decades of working with people and their financial issues, my observation is that the biggest obstacle to financial health is the anxiety of taking a hard look at your financial picture. Once you know where you stand, you can make informed decisions (with professional guidance as needed). Just as many people hesitate to make a doctor’s appointment to help with a physical health issue, you need information to either correct your financial situation or breath a sign of relief that you are on track and feel financially healthy.
Leesa Childress Sluder, MA, is a Financial Advisor with Earth Equity Advisors , a certified B Corporation headquartered in Asheville, NC providing responsible investing and planning. She holds a Masters of Counseling Psychology and wrote her masters’ thesis on the impact of stress on health. Leesa is a Certified Business Coach, Founder and President of Triple Bottom Line Consulting, and served as a senior finance executive for several large companies.