Women control half of the wealth in the United States, yet studies have shown that many of them are convinced they are lacking when it comes to understanding finances. Too often, in their eyes they aren’t capable of making prudent investment decisions. But that’s simply not true, says Cynthia Fick, author of the book “The Sisterhood of Money: The Art of Creating Wealth from Your Heart.”
“I want to change that mindset,” says Fick, who has nearly three decades of experience in the field of finance and investing. “A lot of women are facing financial crises today, yet don’t realize they can change things for the better if they learn to manage the fears about money that have kept them locked into certain roles or paths.” I want them to be money wise.
Those negative beliefs can affect women’s relationships, their children and even the U.S. economy, she says. “If women don’t feel they can make good money decisions, they will give their power away to whoever pushes the hardest,” Fick says. “It may be an advisor, a spouse, someone yelling at them from a TV or a stronger person who may not have their best interests at heart. Feeling powerless will cause women to come at money decisions from a position of fear and that is never a good place to be when making any decision.”
Instead, Fick says, the key to financial success for women can be summed up in one word: “trust.” They first need to learn to trust themselves, their intuition and their hearts, she says. Then they can learn to trust others, such as a spouse or a financial advisor. “Ultimately, this all leads to them being able to trust their own financial decisions,” she says.
As part of the effort to get to that point, Fick says women should take stock of where they are, in terms of finances and confidence, so they know how to move forward. She offers these tips:
- Uncover your money beliefs. Your attitude about money is important because what you believe determines where you are going, Fick says. “For example, if you don’t think you can retire early, you are probably making choices right now that support that belief,” she says. Too often, women’s negative views about their financial knowledge dictate their fortunes, and perception becomes reality. By exploring their views about money, women can challenge some of their limiting beliefs, become more confident and take control of the situation, Fick says.
- Clarify your financial-life vision. What are your goals and your dreams? One of the first steps to achieving your goals is to make sure they are clearly defined. “What is it you truly want for yourself and how do you want your life to look?” Fick asks. “When you get clear about what is most important to you in your financial life, you create a very good template to make decisions about potential opportunities, your money and your life. Figuring out what you want is a very important part of creating wealth from your heart.”
- Capture your financial snapshot. It’s surprising just how many women (and men, too, for that matter) only have a vague notion about how they are spending their money. You need to write down just how much you spend each month for such expenses as your mortgage, car payments, electricity, cable TV, groceries and whatever other expenses you may have. Then you need to figure out your total monthly income and compare that to the expenses so you can see how much, if any, money you have left over to save, invest or use to pay down debt. “Gathering this information gives you a picture of your current financial reality,” Fick says. “That’s an essential step to take if any adjustments need to be made.”