Women, Money & Power

Boomer women control over 3/4 of the country's wealth and make 85% of the purchasing decisions for our households. So why are we still so worried about becoming bag ladies?

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As a whole, women lack confidence about earning and saving enough money and we throw our hands up in the air when it comes to making smart long-term financial decisions. A 2013 whitepaper from Merrill Lynch reported that 72% of us assume we know less then men about investing. A study on women and money conducted this July by Prudential, found that only 14% of us are very confident we’ll be able to maintain our lifestyle when we retire.

Lori Dickerson Fouche, CEO of Prudential Group Insurance, puts it this way, saying, “Women don’t feel prepared to make wise decisions (about money) and are not sure what to consider when evaluating their options.

While the Prudential study revealed that we’re generally less concerned about our financial security than we were right after the 2008 financial crisis, most of us still resist making and putting long range financial plans into place unless we’re forced to.

I was lucky to have a father who taught me early-on about saving and investing the money I earned. He took me to annual meetings with his financial advisor, where I learned the difference between short and long term investments, stocks, bonds, fixed income and average annual projected returns.

Over the years, I developed and fine-tuned a fairly balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds and even bought a small house. I felt like I was on track for “the future.” Unfortunately, like quite a few other boomers, I was rocked by the 2008 recession and lost half the money I’d earned during my career in one fell swoop, when the stock market spiraled out of control. I also lost half the money I’d recently inherited from my father, becoming a case study my accountant cited as a “worst case scenario” for what can happen to your lifetime earnings and savings with a combination of bad timing and bad luck in the financial markets.

As a single mom running her own business, I began to worry incessantly about how I was going to support our lifestyle, pay our bills, find new clients in a dreadful economy, and send my daughter to college.

Up until that time, shopping and “eating out” for entertainment had been my favorite stress-busting diversions, but those strategies were obviously going to make things even worse. So I made a serious decision to become an informed “recessionista” and started “spending less with style.” I created a pared down, streamlined, crisis oriented budget  to get a clear handle on where I was overspending, and focused on exactly where my money was going every month.

Though the strong financial markets of the past few years have made many of us (including me) feel a little more confident about our financial futures, we don’t always pay enough attention to the money we earn and control, neglecting to balance our checkbooks, manage our debt, create budgets we can stick to, or understand all our financial options until it’s too late. When we finally bite the bullet and decide to take control or our finances, or are forced to do so by an economic downturn, divorce, illness, or the death of a partner, the majority of us feel overwhelmed, alone and on our own.  

Here at WHAT NOW WHAT NEXT we aim to help, bringing clarity to mastering money. Original and curated content will shed light on everything from balancing your budget,  taking on and managing debt, re-financing your home and financing your kids education, to raising money, growing your business and planning for your future overall.

Regular features will include conversations with experts who'll inspire us take ownership of our finances.  We'll be offering road-tested tools, tips and resources in partnership with financial advisors, institutions and not-for profit organizations focused on supporting financial literacy for women. It's much easier to move forward when you know exactly where you stand and what your options are.

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