Recently 117-year-old Emma Morano, the oldest person in the world, passed away. She attributed her longevity to eating raw eggs every day. While the jury is still out on the merits of that diet, there is no doubt that Emma’s gender was a contributing factor. When you look at a list of the oldest humans, it’s obvious: 14 of the top 15 are women. In fact, women of all ages can expect to live into their mid-80s on average, well beyond men’s life expectancy.
Living well, not just living long, should be the goal—and for that, women need to think more about financial planning. In a recent survey, many women identified themselves as Day-to-Day Decision-Makers, a segment that scores below average on:
- Focusing on the long-term
- Having realistic, achievable financial expectations
- Living within their means
- Being receptive to financial advice
As a result, many struggle with financial issues and report feeling less satisfied with life.
So, how can women move from concerned to confident in their financial decision-making capabilities? Here are five steps that can help any woman—or man—feel more empowered in preparing for their future.
BUILD YOUR VALUES FRAME
Redefining your financial attitudes is a big deal. You’ll have to unlearn long-term habits and change how you think about money in fundamental ways. Making such a life change requires motivation—and that comes from defining what you value most. Do you want to live a healthier lifestyle? Provide greater security for your family? Feel more confidence and less stress? Tapping into that motivational energy will help you stay the course.
UNDERSTAND YOUR PERSONAL ATTITUDES ABOUT MONEY
While many women self-identify as Day-to-Day Decision-Makers, that may not reflect your financial personality. You may be an Ambitious Spender, Retirement Realist, or Confident Planner. Take our Financial & Emotional Confidence Quiz and learn more about your beliefs. For instance, you may be surprised to learn that your spending behaviors aren’t jiving with your saving intentions.
KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING
Unless you identify what you want—a new home, early retirement, higher or continued education, to start a new business—you can’t set the right goals. Here are some tips for defining your life goals. And be sure to keep your goals SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
MAKE SMALL CHANGES FOR BIG RESULTS
To save money for your goals, start small. Even Emma only ate one egg at a time. Making just slight tweaks to your daily activities can lead to serious savings. For example, bring lunch from home instead of eating out at work. Let’s say that saves you $10 a day, which saves $200 a month, which saves $2,400 a year, which leads to—are you ready?—$264,897 in 30 years. All from eating leftovers. Genius, right?
INCREASE YOUR KNOWLEDGE
Even though women control two-thirds of the consumer wealth in the U.S., fewer than half of female Boomers and one-quarter of female Gen Xers have consulted with a financial planner. Seek out personal finance content from a trusted source. Sign up for a financial literacy class. Investigate budgeting apps and software to understand your cash flow. And find a reputable financial professional who can assess your situation and provide guidance.
Like Emma (and Mr. Spock), we all want to live long and prosper. And we can—by being honest about our current financial situation, understanding our fears and motivators, making a financial plan, and then following through. It’s how to move from worried and stressed-out to financially confident.
Brought to you by The Guardian Network © 2017. The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America®, New York, NY
2019-85341 Exp. 09/2021
Guardian’s Living Confidently survey, 2017
4Hypothetical 7% annual growth rate
5US Women Control the Purse, Nielsen Consumer, 2013
6IRI Report, Baby Boomer and Gen X Women: Retirement Readiness and the Role of Women Financial Advisors, May 2014.