Women tend to view money and finances differently from men.  They usually want security rather than power and this can make them more conservative and afraid of making a mistake.

Many women think money matters are boring and hard to understand and would rather hand the whole thing over to someone else to handle.  It’s not that difficult to get your financial life under control (your control).  Remember, a man is not a financial plan.  Here are ten practical solutions for women to achieve financial empowerment:

Get An Education

Unless you are very creative or entrepreneurial, a good education is mandatory.  A diploma or certificate will earn you more than high school education and a university or college degree is even better.

Find a course or program you are interested in and go for it, whether in person or online.  If you can’t afford it you can get a student loan.  There are also all kinds of scholarships you can apply for and they are not limited to your high school grades.

Don’t shy away from getting an education just because you’re busy with your current job.  There are plenty of degrees that can be completely earned online.  This means that you can schedule your work however you want.  Best of all, you’ll find that this is much more affordable than a traditional college in that you don’t have to worry about paying for room and board or fuel.

One site is www.scholarshipscanada.com that gives a listing of available money.  Also, taking the time to upgrade your education can lead to advancement in your current career.

Choose The Right Career

With that education under your belt it’s time to get a well-paying job.  Don’t be limited to traditional “women’s work” although teaching and nursing do pay well.  Look at management and sales positions (no, not retail sales), project coordinating, etc.  You want to be the doctor, lawyer or executive rather than the assistant, clerk or secretary.  Don’t exclude the trades if that’s where your interest lies.  A position that you can temporarily put on hold (such as when raising a family) or one that has potential for a home business would also be ideal.

Ask For What You Want

What do you want from your job?  Do you deserve a raise?  Do you want flextime to be with your kids?  Or work part-time from your home?  Think about what you have accomplished for the company and how any change in your routine can benefit them.  Then, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want and why you should get it.

Learn About Finances

Now that you’re earning a good salary make a commitment to spend some time to improve your financial IQ.  Read a book, Chilton’s Wealthy Barber is a classic.  Also a good read is Smart Women Finish Rich by David Bach or get inspired by Thomas J. Stanley’s Millionaire Women Next Door), sign up for a money-management class or research a topic online.  Remember you don’t have to know everything.

Keep Your Independence

Even if you are married or are in a live-in relationship and have joint accounts, keep an account in your own name.  You will have peace of mind knowing you have your own funds to rely on should something unexpected happen.

Strength In Numbers

Get some friends and co-workers together and form a money club.  It’s less intimidating to discuss financial matters with your peers who may be in the same boat as you and can offer suggestions and advice you may not have thought of.

Some money clubs are informal get-togethers and some have an organized program that involve doing research on financial topics and discussing the results, having speakers and holding shares in the club name.  You can be as formal or informal as you want, you can still benefit from others opinions.

Establish Your Credit

Apply for credit in your own name.  Don’t settle for being a co-signer or “additional card-holder”.  You need your own credit history if you ever want to get a loan or mortgage on your own.

Use A Budget

Make a budget and stick to it.  You don’t need great math skills to know that spending more than you earn is a recipe for disaster and can lead to financial ruin.

Pay Yourself First

This is really the number one lesson in obtaining financial security.  It’s easiest to arrange an automatic withdrawal plan tied to the direct deposit of your pay.  If you don’t think you can manage the traditional suggestion of 10%, start with less and increase it periodically.  It’s better to aim a bit higher than you feel comfortable with though.  You can always decrease the amount if necessary but you’re less likely to increase it even if it’s manageable.

Protect Your Loved Ones

If you have assets and/or dependents, make sure you have a will.  When you choose a beneficiary and guardian make sure you think long term of things that could happen, don’t just name your spouse as is customary.

In my own will I will leave my personal assets to my kids.  I have a fear that if my husband outlives me, he will marry some bimbo and they’ll have a grand time spending all my hard earned money and leave my kids hanging (don’t laugh; I’ve seen it happen!).  On a similar note, regularly review your beneficiary information on life insurance policies (especially at work which we tend to forget about) and RRSPs.

Life is full of learning opportunities.  Keep your mind open to new information every day.  It’s your future, make the most of it.

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10 Comments

  1. Beth on January 25, 2011 at 8:10 am

    “A man is not a financial plan?” My gut instinct was to ask “how stupid do you think we are?” but given the state of people’s finances, it never hurts to cover the basics one more time!

    These tips are solid advice for everyone, not just women. In my social circle, financial success has little to do with gender and more to do with how people were raised. I was lucky to grow up with parents who instilled these values in me. My mother was determined I would have a good career and be financially independent whether I married or not.

  2. Boomer on January 25, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Hi Beth. You are fortunate to have been raised to be financially prepared – good for your parents. In my previous financial advisor experience (over 25 years) I have found that your peers are more the exception than the rule. A lot of young women are woefully unprepared for the real world and think a husband will take care of all their financial needs. Perhaps times are changing for the better – I hope so.

  3. Beth on January 26, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Lucky? Don’t I know it 🙂 I had no clue there was such a thing as credit card debt until I hit my middle teens and my friends talked about their parents’ issues. We did without a lot of things growing up, but it quickly became evident to me why other families could “afford” things mine couldn’t.

    As a late Gen-Xer, my friends seem to have a mix of attitudes and strategies when it comes to money. Many of us grew up thinking we would marry young and have kids right away, but life had other plans for us 🙂 With what I’ve learned about women earning less, taking more time off to care for children and elderly parents and having higher risks for disability (not to mention longer lifespans), it really gets tricky.

    I’m a new reader, but i’m enjoying your blog so far!

  4. Boomer on January 27, 2011 at 9:07 am

    @Beth. Thanks for your support. Best of luck in all your endeavors and stay positive.

  5. marie on February 4, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Pretty fades but dumb lasts forever. I think every girl should be raised to have self-respect, first, last and always. It’s amazing how much this takes of…including the issue of being financially indepedent. Let’s encourage them to feel CAPABLE and independent. Years ago I heard Tyra Banks, on TV in a few articles, say her mom told her these things and encouraged her to have a f-u fund for choice. (She is the originator of this quote by the way). BTW if you hear the first line being picked up by another blogger and using as their own, I can assure you this is also an old one and well used. I would cite the original source if I knew.

  6. marie on February 4, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    For you Madonna fans…she was where I first heard the saying about self-respect when she was asked in an interview years ago on Oprah about what SHE would teach her soon to be born daughter. Her answer? Self-respect. Period. The rest would take care of itself. I agree.

  7. Rob on March 6, 2011 at 4:52 am

    Boomer,
    I happen to be a man, please don’t be offended, but you’ve given good advice for either of the sexes.
    I especially like the idea of paying yourself first.
    Thanks,
    Live it LOUD!

    • Boomer on March 6, 2011 at 6:16 pm

      Hi Rob. It’s true that any financial advice holds true for both sexes but in my experience, too many females buy into the old adage that they aren’t good at math and anything to do with finances is best left to the men in their life. This is why the post was titles to be specific to women. It wasn’t meant to leave you out.
      As for paying yourself first, if you wait to see what’s left over at the end of the month I guarantee there’ll hardly be anything to invest.

  8. Nadine on March 18, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Thank you for this incredibly timely post. I’m going through a period in my life where my relationship of nearly 20 years is on shaky ground. Seen as a couple we are in terrific financial shape but there’s reason to think perhaps he doesn’t see us as a couple. Worse, it seems all these years he never did. I’m 57 now.

    I am not sure what I will come out with if it ends in divorce. I haven’t had a traditional job in years, but I have three businesses with a lot of potential but as yet don’t generate more than $1,000/month income total. I have a couple of small retirement accounts in my own name and about $6,000 in cash. California is a community property state but I don’t have money for a lawyer.

    The biggest mistake I ever made was to sell my house. Heed this well, ladies: Buy your own home (even if it’s just a tiny condo) and hang onto it.

  9. Boomer on March 19, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Hi Nadine. I’m truly sorry you are going through such a difficult time now. It seems as though you have an entrepreneural spirit so I would suggest you focus on your businesses. Check around for inexpensive or free advice and keep moving forward. Good luck.

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