Women today are in a strong position to pursue financial security for themselves and their families. But women often face unique financial challenges. Certainly, not all women will face each of these challenges. Many different life stages and characteristics define women: single, married, widowed, employee, small business owner, breadwinner, stay-at-home mom, empty nester, retired, knowledgeable investor, novice saver, and so on.
Nevertheless, it’s likely you’ll face at least some of these challenges, so it’s important to recognize them and take necessary steps to move forward financially — regardless of the life stage you’re in.
Steps Women Can Take
Despite the challenges women face, they are in a strong position to achieve financial security for themselves and their families. Women make up almost half the total workforce and account for more than half of all workers employed in management, professional, and related occupations.
Now, more than ever, it’s critical that women know how to save, invest, and plan for the future. At almost any stage of adult life, there are things women can do to help ensure their financial security.
You’re interested in taking control of your money, but you find yourself in situations like:
Sitting quietly while the men talk about money (maybe even yours), worried you’ll sound silly if you speak up
Watching the news and wishing you knew more, but the whole financial world feels so complex and intimidating
Not wanting to become one of those women who gets taken for all her savings
You’re good at what you do (hobbies, career, and running your busy life), but the feeling in control of your financial life feels so out of reach and overwhelming.
Yet letting the men have all the control AND giving up your goals and financial ambitions don’t feel right to you either.
And you definitely don’t want to retire years from now, look back and think, “If only I had taken hold of my financial strategy back then, I wouldn’t be clipping coupons and waiting for my check each month.”
Does it feel like the financial industry ignores your concerns, without even knowing what they are? You’re not alone.
The good news is it’s not nearly as complicated as it may seem. You CAN take control without your money feeling frustrated and out of reach.
Certain people in the money management industry benefit from making finances look too complicated for anyone who isn’t “numbers-oriented.” They’re the ones who just want you to hand your money over to them and let them do what they want.
Fortunately, that’s not how money management has to work. And it’s increasingly important, especially for women, that it doesn’t work that way.
Are you thriving? Struggling? Or suffering? Those are the three ways global analytics and advice firm Gallup classifies people. And at the moment, according to Its polls, the number of Americans thriving has dropped to lows not seen since the 2008 economic downturn. The poll also found the amount of stress and worry people feel on a daily basis hasn’t fully dropped to pre-pandemic levels.
Gallup’s data is worth considering. However, what it means to “thrive” is subjective. Some would say thriving is a mindset and being happy doesn’t come from having a lot, but rather from being grateful for what you have. That’s not to say there isn’t value in always striving for more. But if you’ve decided, “I’ll only be happy when [insert goal here],” you could be missing out on a lot of joy that’s available right now.
It is worth acknowledging that some of our happiness levels are genetic. In fact, a chart published in Berkeley University’s Greater Good Magazine shows 50 percent of joy is in your genes. But it also reports that 40 percent of your happiness relies on your behaviors and habits – so a lot is actually within your control. Based on a data, research and surveys, here are the habits of happy people.
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You don’t need to engage in a serious sweat session every day to feel happy. But you should be pumping some iron on a regular basis. Many studies have linked regular exercise to happiness. And one such study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health showed this to be true for young, middle-aged and older adults. In examining 2,345 healthy adults, it was discovered that regular physical activity was linked to greater feelings of happiness and life satisfaction.
They Go Outside
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Getting outdoors on a regular basis can significantly improve happiness levels. The American Psychology Association states that time in nature can lower stress, increase feelings of empathy and even improve attention span. Simply looking at natural landscapes from trees and rivers to mountains can achieve this effect. So if you pair time outdoors with your workout, you get double the benefits.
They Are Generous
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It turns out that being happy isn’t about what you get, but rather what you give. Generous people are some of the happiest. In Adam Grant’s book Give and Take, it is reported that volunteers are some of the happiest people in the world. One study covered in the book found that volunteering increased happiness and self-esteem. Some studies even found that elderly adults who volunteer live longer.
They Express Gratitude
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Many spiritual gurus and psychology experts would tell you that happiness is simply the feeling of gratitude for the things that you have. All of the riches in the world can’t make you feel happy if you don’t feel grateful for them. Research published in Harvard Health Publishing showed a significant correlation between expressing gratitude and feeling joy.
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According to the American Psychological Association, being forgiving can help alleviate anxiety and symptoms of depression. It can even reduce the likelihood of some psychiatric disorders. So if you’re holding onto any grudges, the only person you could be harming is you.
Research also shows that forgiving yourself is an important part of the happiness equation. A study published in the journal Human Development found that self-compassion is linked to happiness, optimism and feeling connected to others. It’s also linked to decreased depression, anxiety and fear.
They Plan Things
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Happy people have active, busy lives full of things that they look forward to from hobbies and socializing to trips. According to research from the Applied Research in Quality of Life, also shared in the Huffington Post, the simple act of planning a trip elevates happiness levels. So you get to be happy twice when you make a plan: first when you set it in motion, and then when you actually do the plan. It’s no wonder this is one of the more common habits of happy people.
They Devote Time To Loved Ones
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If you think happiness is on the other side of career success, think again. Martin Seligman, a known psychologist who has long studied the habits of happy people, reports in his book Authentic Happiness – based on his website – that people who are “very happy” spend the least amount of time alone and have rich social lives.
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Research published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences found a strong correlation between frequent meditation and high happiness levels. So while there is a joy to be found in planning things and looking forward to the future, there is also joy in being present right where you are.
They Value Experiences Over Things
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The American Psychological Association reports that valuing materialistic objects is linked to higher levels of depression, anxiety, and health issues like stomachaches and headaches. It’s something psychotherapist Richard Wiseman discusses in his book 59 Seconds, too. He notes that spending money on experiences over products contributes to both long and short-term happiness.
SOURCE: 9 Research-Backed Habits Of Happy People. (2022, August 25). MadameNoire. https://madamenoire.com/1321471/9-research-backed-habits-of-happy-people/
Key Summary: Saving money often starts with changing “spending” habits. Here are some ideas that can help: Get cooperation from your family; Involve your kids; Control living expenses. Want to learn more practical ways to save money? A credit union can help!
When you’re on a mission to save money it might seem like it will take forever for savings to grow. Saving money often starts with changing “spending” habits. Here are some ideas that can help:
Get cooperation from your partner.
Controlling spending starts with you but, if you have a spouse or children, it’s essential to have buy-in from family members to make it work.
Talk with your partner first, then involve your kids in age-appropriate ways. Discuss money management as a couple—get organized, put goals and details in writing, and schedule a money management meeting. Also:
Develop a spending plan together.
Agree on who will take responsibility for what.
Learn more about your finances. Honesty is key. Know details so you know what you’re dealing with.
Set SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented, and have set time periods.
Involve your kids.
Once you and your partner are on the same path, involve your children:
Make it fun — Have a weekly contest to see who can save the most. When grocery shopping, see who can find the best deal on a certain item.
Be consistent — Make sure you and your partner agree on what you’ll teach your kids about money management and how you’ll do this.
Stay flexible — Realize that life happens. If you can’t save as much one week or month, that’s OK. Get back on track as soon as you can.
Be a role model — What you do in front of kids makes more of an impression than what you say.
Separate wants and needs — Maybe your family would like to take a vacation, but you also need a different car. You don’t have to go without everything, and you can make adjustments to plans. For example, consider a “staycation” where you take day trips around town instead of scheduling a family road trip this year.
Pay bills together — Let your children watch as you pay bills online or write checks.
Control living expenses.
We often accept expenses as they are without trying to change them. Here are some areas where, with just a little work, you might be able to reduce your bills:
TV, Internet, and phone — Check with providers to make sure you’re getting the lowest rates. Contact providers before the promotional periods end to find out what future rates will be. Don’t hesitate to contact providers at any time to ask for the best deal. Find out if bundling services can help you save.
Food— If you fall into the routine of going out for dinner or picking up takeout, try cutting back. Stop at the grocery store and buy ingredients for a fun meal—have a taco night or make your own stir fry. Bring leftovers to work or have healthy options at home to use for lunch. Use coupons when grocery shopping. If you don’t get the newspaper, consider downloading the flipp app to your phone or tablet. The app allows you to browse ad flyers for stores in your area and highlights the top deals.
Saving money often starts with changing spending habits.
Your credit union can help.
The professionals at your credit union can help you—and your family—get on track with saving:
Use direct deposit and automatic transfers from checking into savings. Chances are, once you set up transfers to savings you won’t even miss the income—and you’ll establish a great habit.
Automate anything you can by using online or mobile bill pay and reminders. This will help you make consistent progress on financial goals, and help you avoid late fees.
Refinance your mortgage or car loans to take advantage of lower rates, if you qualify. Talk to a credit union loan officer about options to reduce your debt load or to retire debts faster.
Give yourself credit for your progress and accept that reducing spending and increasing savings will be a lifelong effort. But it also pays lifelong dividends.
Practical Ways to Save Money. (n.d.). Default. https://www.yourmoneyfurther.com/blog/post/YMF/2022/03/16/practical-ways-to-save-money
With the first half of the year in the rearview mirror, summertime is a great chance to touch base. A mid-year financial review can help to take stock of your accomplishments and uncover any needs for adjustments. It’s important to regularly evaluate your financial situation, and a small investment of review time can help ensure you’re on track for both short and long-term objectives. Here are a few areas to examine:
Review financial goals. Take stock of your overall financial resolutions and long-term goals to determine whether you are making appropriate progress or if there’s a need for adjustments.
Revisit your budget. Assess any significant life changes that may impact your financial needs such as marriage, the birth of a child, divorce, or job change. Determine if any recurring costs could be eliminated or any spending habits tightened up.
Tackle taxes. Do you only focus on taxes right before tax time, when it may be too late to implement effective tax-saving strategies? Review your investments and tax withholdings to make sure you’re incurring the smallest tax burden possible. Also, look for opportunities to maximize charitable deductions, use an FSA account, or make adjustments that could lighten your tax load.
Assess savings. You should have at least three months of living expenses in your emergency fund. If you’re not there yet, don’t worry! Look to see how you can start building it up and consider setting up automatic deposits. Also, check on your progress toward other savings goals.
Review retirement. Check on retirement savings to assess progress and determine if you need to increase contributions or not. Consider account types, contribution sources, and tax implications.
Check on credit. It’s a good practice to pull a free credit report every year and examine for any discrepancies or suspicious activity and review your score. The three major bureaus offer a free report every 12-months. If needed, adjust where possible to improve your credit score.
Evaluate debt. Debt can be a major expense and a hindrance to making progress on goals. Review outstanding debt and what progress has been made toward eliminating it, adjust any habits to prevent you from incurring more.
The year is still young! Even if your review reveals a diversion from your goals, there is still time to modify and put things back on track. Identify the areas that require a bit of extra attention and make needed changes to improve them by the end of the year.
If you would like to hold a mid-year review together, click the link below to schedule a time that works for you!
Securities are offered through Registered Representatives of Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a broker-dealer member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Cambridge and Atlantis Wealth are not affiliated. Cambridge does not provide legal or tax advice.
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