Why do so many people—especially women—ignore their finances?
Having spent more than two decades in the finance field—and trying to push the idea of launching my own financial-planning firm to the back of my mind—I finally decided, last year, to “lean in” and make it a reality. As I began to build my clientele with the requisite networking events, I discovered that once people learned what I did for a living, they would tell me all kinds of personal details about their finances. And they would do it right there on the spot! This “openness” surprised me a bit, but I just assumed that my Midwestern persona evidently had the ability to make people feel comfortable and at ease.
Woman after woman would tell me “Oh, I really need to come and talk to you!” or “I don’t even know what investments I have” or “I don’t like the stock market” or “My husband doesn’t like our current advisor” or “My mom needs help, and she would feel so much more comfortable discussing her finances with a woman” or “Investing is a mystery to me, but I know I need to do something.” The comments I heard reflected a wide variety of monetary issues and scenarios.
So what does that say about these women’s relationship with money? Their situation obviously weighed on their minds heavily enough that they would share fairly personal information with someone who was almost a stranger. Even though money is a topic that is often taboo in social situations. But after their initial enthusiasm, I was confused by the fact that only a tiny percentage of those women ever called me for a one-on-one consultation. And an even smaller percentage followed through on the simple starter plan that I had set out for them. Why would they be so concerned about their situation but never follow through?
Was it because it’s so uncomfortable for people to expose their deep dark secrets about their money situation—especially if they’ve made bad decisions and/or now find themselves in trouble? Are they ashamed about financial challenges? And how do I, as an experienced financial planner put them at ease? After all, I knew enough to never pass judgment when it came to money issues because these were the people I most wanted to help.
Is it because the subject of money is simply too overwhelming to tackle—or is it because these women don’t have answers to the probing questions they know a financial analyst might ask? The important issues in need of answers would include: How much will you need to live on during your retirement? Where do you want to live? When do you want to retire? Etc. After all, it’s much easier to focus our attention on the things we already know rather than on the ones we don’t.
I opened my practice because I want to help women successfully and comfortably work through their money issues. My goal is to teach them something in the process, but it’s impossible for me or anyone else to help them if they won’t help themselves. Do I sound a little frustrated? Well, I am. I’m frustrated that I haven’t yet figured out how to connect to women in need, and pull them out of their shell. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I will find the solution, and get women to the table so that we can reach productive solutions together.
During these quick sessions, my goal is to offer easy-to-implement solutions for any woman who wants to enjoy a bright financial future. Take just a few moments and…
- Gather all your money-related data in one place so that everything will be near at hand when you begin to format your personal financial statements. Do this by creating a folder where you can collect bank and investment statements, retirement account statements, credit card bills, mortgage statements, monthly bills, and so on.