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March 23, 2020, 10:07 a.m. EDT

How to plan for the unique financial challenges women face

Gaining the freedom to pursue your dreams

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By Krystal Barker Buissereth


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As we celebrate another Women’s History Month, I’ve been reflecting on the role of women in the financial ecosystem.

Women make up half the population but for so long have been treated like a niche demographic in financial services. Today, women are largely responsible for their families’ financial decision-making, and we hold the majority of consumer spending power. Certainly, we are anything but a niche.

Let’s take a look at the numbers. Women are a true financial force, controlling over half of personal wealth in the United States, to the tune of $14 trillion . By 2030, we’re estimated to control two-thirds of it, thanks in large part to the coming wave of intergenerational wealth transfer from Baby Boomers to succeeding generations. That’s a lot of assets in female hands.

I’ve heard many times that investing in women is a great way to invest in whole communities. Globally, working women put significantly more of their earnings into their families than men do,3 and women are responsible for 70%-80% of all consumer spending , which means we’re putting a lot of money back into the economy.

With all of this economic power, you might expect women to feel they are on top of their financial lives. Unfortunately, that’s not the current case.

Research shows that women are much more likely than men to experience financial anxiety (57% vs. 47%) and to feel stressed when discussing their finances (49% vs. 38%). Moreover, just 12% of women are “very confident” they’ll be able to retire comfortably.

These numbers might seem disheartening, but we can turn the tide through education, goal-setting and planning.

Planning for the challenges women face

It is true that women’s needs and obligations often differ from those of men, so we should be having candid conversations about money acknowledging that fact.

For one, women provide a disproportionate amount of caregiving in the U.S., and much of this labor is not only unpaid but may also lead to a reduction in income. For instance, we may put our careers on hold or reduce our working hours to care for children and/or aging parents.

Spending less time in the workforce can have far-reaching financial effects, in some cases preventing participation in company-sponsored retirement plans, or preventing a smooth career trajectory and the pay increases that come with it.

On average, women live about five years longer than men , meaning many of us outlive our male partners. Because of the career interruptions I just mentioned, that means many women are living longer on less income.

Finally, women may not be taking full advantage of the investment opportunities at their disposal, or the potential for their assets to grow, as they are more likely to take a conservative approach to money.

Setting and meeting goals

When I talk to women about their money, I encourage them to think of it as a vehicle for realizing their personal vision of success. Through thoughtful planning, you can garner the financial freedom to pursue your dreams, bring stability to your life and the lives of your loved ones, handle the inevitable obstacles life throws in your path, and contribute to the causes close to your heart.

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