Today is International Women’s Day, and to celebrate I’m joining the #WomenRockMoney movement. The mission? Get more women involved in money and work towards equality. My contribution? I want to let all you ladies off the hook and motivate you to close the investing gap. For more inspiring posts head over to the WomenRockMoney headquarters, and get involved by sharing your money wins using the #WomenRockMoney hashtag.
There’s this mentality that women need to be kind, nurturing, and accommodating, while also running the world from the backseat. This piles on the pressure and makes us feel like we need to do it all. But guess what? You don’t! There is nothing wrong with being a master at some things, mediocre at others, and even downright bad at something else. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses (that makes you human), and there is no shame in asking for help. Offloading the tasks you dislike makes you smart, not unsuccessful. It’s time to cut yourself some slack…
It’s ok if you’re a working mom and don’t spend every waking hour with your kid. It’s also ok if you’re not and you do.
It’s ok to speak up for yourself, even if they call you a bitch.
It’s ok to love makeup and not leave home without it. And it’s ok to think it’s a waste of money.
It’s ok to earn more than your husband. It’s not ok for him to be cranky about it.
It’s ok not to want kids; you don’t even have to like them all that much.
It’s ok to not show up for a women’s rights rally, but you need to find your own way to fight.
Wherever you’re at right now is just one minute in an entire lifetime, don’t let it define who you are. Instead, let it inspire you to get where you’re going.
The Relation to Money
Because I’m a personal finance blogger, I want to bring this around and see how it relates to how women handle their money. We know that a wage gap exists between what men get paid and what women get paid, but there is also a gap when it comes to investing. Women don’t invest at nearly the same rate as their male counterparts. Based on a study conducted by Blackrock in the US, only 53% of women had started saving for retirement compared to 65% of men. Add that to the fact that of the women who had started, they held 68% of their portfolio in cash compared to 59% of men’s. The cumulative effect means that women are leaving a lot of money on the table.
Combatting the Investing Gap
The wage gap can be a tough one to tackle. You either work for a boss who supports wage equality, or you don’t. However, you can start conversations about salaries with your friends, family and colleagues. Opening the dialogue will make it harder for inequalities to stand and make it easier for you to get what you deserve. If you find that you’re on the low end of the pay scale, then you need to ask for a raise. Many women (guilty as charged) hate asking for raises, and it is absolutely a factor in why the wage gap exists. Negotiate a higher salary for yourself, and all the other ladies working in your field (that’s motivating right?)
The investing gap is easier to fix on an individual level. You just need to START INVESTING! Stop socking away your money for a rainy day, stop thinking you’ll lose everything in the stock market, and most importantly, stop saying you’ll start investing as soon as you understand it better. You know who would never use that as an excuse? A man. Other people have the knowledge, use them. Let a fund manager worry about the price earning ratio of that new company, that’s their job. Your job is to let them do it.
Investing is as Easy as 1, 2, 3
You can know next to nothing about investing and still be successful at it. Seriously! What you do need to have is an understanding of yourself and your goals. There are three questions to ask yourself that will guide your investment decisions…
What is your time frame?
- Are you saving for retirement or are you saving to buy a car next year? You can be doing both, but you’ll want to split your savings between short-term and long-term goals. The easiest way to do this is by opening a separate account for each level. For anything with a term of less than one year (or your emergency fund), I would suggest not investing that money and keeping it in a high-interest savings account. Short-term would be money you are planning to use in two to five years. That can be invested but stick with lower risk. The money you won’t need for at least five years can handle more risk since there is time for growth and recovery.
What is your risk tolerance?
- Are you the kind of person who can ride the ups and downs of the markets and not look at your accounts every day? Or you more likely to keep a constant eye on what’s going on and lose sleep over losses? Be honest; there’s no wrong answer. Just because you’re young and have a long time frame doesn’t mean you should be overly aggressive. You do need to take some risk. Keeping your money on the sidelines isn’t the right answer. But you can go with a more conservative balanced fund instead of something high risk. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
What type of account is right for you?
- This is where you need to have a bit of knowledge about your tax situation and what accounts provide what benefits. In Canada, we have two main options; TFSAs or RRSPs. You can find more information on which is right for you here, but the basic gist is that you want to make RRSP contributions in your higher earning years. There are also non-registered investment accounts, but those will only come into play after your TFSA is maxed out. If you’re American, you will be choosing between an IRA or a 401k. To help you with that decision you can check here.
I want to make closing the investing gap as simple as possible for you, so we’re going to make the process almost entirely hands-off. Sound good? Now that you have an idea of your risk, term and account, we’ll set up an automatic deposit to go into your investment account(s) every month. Start early and contribute often is sage advice when it comes to investing. Even better advice? Keep it simple, and there is nothing simpler than ‘set it and forget it‘. You might be thinking you can’t afford it right now, but there’s nothing wrong with starting small. Even if you start with $25 a month, it’s getting started that’s the critical part.
The first step is to open one or more accounts with a robo-advisor (I like Wealthsimple). This only takes a few minutes. They will ask about your goals and risk tolerance and then choose investments based on your answers. It’s as easy as signing up for Amazon, seriously. Once that is done you can set-up your automatic contributions right on their website. They’ll link you over to your bank for verification and ask how much you want to contribute to each account and on what date and you’re done. Each month Wealthsimple will pull your contribution from your bank account and invest it automatically. And because Wealthsimple takes care of the rebalancing there is really nothing else you need to do unless there’s a significant change in your time frame or risk.
Go Do It!
Don’t let men have all the investing fun! Closing the investing gap will not only put women in a better financial position, it will also boost confidence that can spread to all areas of your life. Being financially independent is a game changer ladies.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on investing as a woman! Do you invest? What tips do you have? And don’t forget to share your money wins, fails, and questions using the #WomenRockMoney hashtag. Spread the word and end the stigma against women and money.
This post was proofread by Grammarly.