Money can be a touchy subject.
It can be especially taboo for women to talk about money. We may have been told that we're not good with money, or that money is the root of all evil. We may have been expected to accept the fact that we will be paid less and earn less, simply because we are women.
Are those beliefs serving us well? Are they even true?
What's the big secret? Why don't we talk about money?
In a recent survey, 34% of Canadians said they are uncomfortable talking about their finances, creating a real barrier to financial recovery or achieving their financial goals. Why? Chalk it up to good-old Canadian courtesy.
The largest proportion of respondents indicated they don’t think it’s polite to talk about money, some didn’t want it to seem like they’re bragging and some didn’t want to be judged.
In a 2015 survey, the numbers were even more dire for women.
A whopping 8 in 10 women refrain from discussing their finances with people they are close to. And almost half of women questioned said they weren’t comfortable even sitting down with a financial planner by themselves.
When asked what would motivate them to become more engaged in their financial goals, what was their number one answer?
“Learning more about investing.”
Well, welcome to the Women’s Wealth Canada Blog and Podcast, Canada! You’ve got this!
Let’s have an honest discussion about some of the most common money myths that women hold. Once you understand these myths, you can begin to change your mindset and create a financially abundant life for yourself.
THE MOST COMMON MYTHS ABOUT WOMEN AND MONEY
Myth#1: Women aren't interested in learning about money
Now more than ever, women are seeking education about money. The percentage of women who have money to invest and are interested in investing has skyrocketed since the pandemic. And they’re not waiting until retirement. They’re seeing the benefit of investing at an early age, often starting long before they’ve purchased their first home.
I’m even seeing it in my wealth advising practice. The women I serve are coming to me at a younger age than before. Much of this is due to the transfer of wealth from the baby boomer generation and their parents.
My client–we’ll call her Lisa–came to me when she received an inheritance from her grandparents. Up until that point, she and her young children had lived modestly. Now she was in charge of a large sum of money, money that could make a real difference in her childrens’ futures and her own lifestyle.
Like many people who achieve sudden wealth, the responsibility frightened her. She wanted someone to teach her about the choices she had and how to make the most of this generous gift. We took it step by step, starting with the basics and gradually increasing to more sophisticated investments and strategies.
Just like any skill, the more you practice, the more you learn, the more confident you feel.
Myth#2: Women are spenders and men are savers
Nope, it's pretty evenly divided with single men spending slightly more annually than single women. A Fidelity Women and Money Survey found that their female clients saved 9% of their salaries versus 8.6% of male clients.
Men spend less on groceries and pet care than women and more on restaurants, vehicles and home theater purchases. Women spend more on clothing and accessories than men.
This perception that women spend more may have been created by the ugly secret behind products marketed specifically to women; an issue called the “pink tax,” which is the fact that women pay 7% more on the same products as men.
A comparative study proved that women were paying more throughout their lives for everything from girl’s scooters to adult women’s diapers.
Given that women face the pink tax yet spend fewer dollars than men, it could be argued that they’re in fact purchasing fewer items than their male counterparts.
Myth#3: Women are not good at managing investments.
In a recent study, women investors outperformed their male counterparts by almost half a percent over a ten year period.
Women invest for the long haul. We live longer on average, so we understand that we need to make our money last. We’re not interested in making a quick buck and we have less fear of missing out.
My client–we’ll call her Tina–came to me when she had just completed a divorce. Before the divorce, her husband had personally managed all of their investments. She was starting at square one.
We worked together to first make sure she had enough saved in cash for emergencies. Then we invested in funds that would provide good long term returns and income.
86% of women agree having their finances managed by professionals makes life less stressful, as Tina found. What’s more, she began making contacts with other women at our client and networking events, and they shared what they learned with each other.
SO WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT IT
Want more confidence in your ability to manage your investments? Here are a few proven steps you can take to feel more confident in your abilities:
You’ve heard it before…pay yourself first. Put a portion of every paycheque or income stream towards your financial goals. Set it and forget it.
I have had clients who were paid low wages throughout their working years who accumulated impressive sums by the time they retired. How did they do it? By taking advantage of every group savings plan offered by their employer.
If they switched to another employer that didn’t offer a plan, they made it a priority to open their own plan. Yes, they lived frugal lives, but they were grateful for all they had and loved the lives they built.
The important thing is, they made their future self a priority by setting aside that money.
No one investment is a sure-fire win all the time. And no one can predict the future. That’s why you want to be invested in a little of this, a little of that. For example, you can invest in mutual funds that invest in bonds and mutual funds that invest in stocks. Within those mutual funds, there may be stocks of Canadian companies but also some U.S. Companies, and so on. You might hold some real estate, and you might hold cash, such as savings accounts and GICs.
Each investment serves a different purpose and each tends to do well at different times. By always being diversified, you can concentrate on investing more or drawing an income, instead of spending energy trying to predict what type of investment will go up or down at any particular time.
Take the Long View
“The stock market is a device for transferring money from the impatient to the patient.” ~Warren Buffett
If you walk down the hallways of investor Warren Buffett’s company offices, you’ll see articles of old newspapers he’s framed. The headlines capture a moment in time when stock markets dropped in value.
Why did he memorialize these headlines? To remind himself and his employees that investing is a long game. There is always a crisis happening in the world. The job of journalists is to create urgency so you’ll read their content.
Think about it. Which of these headlines would make you want to read an article?
“Stock Market Crashes! Economy in Crisis!”
“Everything will be fine eventually. Nothing to worry about here!”
It can be difficult to remember to stay invested for the long term when these headlines scream at us. But history is a great teacher.
Let’s look at the financial crisis of 2008. If you were invested in an Exchange Traded Fund or mutual fund that invested in the NASDAQ index, by March 2009 you would have lost half of the value of your investment.
Let’s say your investment was then worth $10,000 in March 2009. If you panicked and cashed out your $10,000, by October 2020 you would still have $10,000.
However, if you did nothing else but stay invested and not cash out your money, by October 2020, that investment would be worth over $89,000.
That is the power of taking the long view.
You will build more wealth by the habits you create than any one investment you make.
Time is your friend. If you started investing $200 a month at age 25, then stopped investing at age 35, you’d still have more money than someone who started saving 10 years later than you did, even if they kept investing regularly.
Knowledge is power. The best way to build your confidence is to educate yourself and get started on your financial journey. Listen to the Women’s Wealth Canada Podcast. Ask questions on our Facebook page. Follow other people whose financial journey you admire.
If you want to work with a wealth advisor but aren’t sure where to begin, check out my free guide, 12 Smart Questions to Ask When Hiring a Wealth Advisor. This guide contains all the questions to ask and why you should ask them.
Every day, I’m inspired by the strong, independent women I serve who are living their lives on their own terms, confident in the strength of the financial foundation they’ve built.
You’re smart. You can do this. Happy myth busting!