As early as our childhood, we’re discouraged from talking about money.
“Mom, how much do you make?” “That’s rude. Don’t ask.”
“Dad, how much did our vacation cost?” “That’s rude. Don’t ask.”
“Hey, Billy. How much did your brother pay for his car?” “That’s rude. Don’t ask.”
Sound familiar? If we’re constantly told to never ask questions about money, is it any surprise how many people have trouble managing it as they get older?
For women especially, the idea of discussing money seems to be extremely taboo: 61% would rather talk about their own death.[i]
But instituting a complete blackout of all money conversations – either due to embarrassment, intimidation, or the urge to uphold social norms – can do more harm than good. If you don’t talk about money (or investing, or retirement), how can you expect to learn? To grow? To gauge how your own situation is faring? To know what to ask a financial advisor?
With a crisis in retirement preparation, it’s time for a new approach. It’s time to start opening up and having frank discussions about money.
Yes, we want you to shatter the taboo.
Don’t understand money, investing, or how to go about saving more for retirement? It’s normal to be worried about looking foolish.
What’s tragic is paying for your silence later because you were afraid to ask hard questions.
Talk with your family, your friends. Talk about your mistakes. Talk about your goals. Ask those questions you think are too silly to ask (we promise you, they’re not too silly).
As you share, you’ll hopefully learn as well. Your financial confidence will increase. And this is key, particularly for women: on average, women retire with two-thirds of the amount of savings and investments that men retire with – and they generally live longer than men – so a lack of financial confidence can become a very serious problem.[ii]
How can you get started? The next time you’re with a group of trusted friends, take the initiative. And this doesn’t mean asking how much everyone makes. Instead, consider questions such as:
The only way you’re going to feel empowered enough to make financial decisions for yourself down the line is if you’re educated – or, at the very least, comfortable enough to ask the not-so-comfortable questions.
Having a strong sense of financial confidence extends beyond yourself as well; it will also help determine if a financial advisor is treating you fairly.
First, there’s ‘fairness’ as it relates to the advisor’s responsibilities to you, their client. You need to have the confidence to ask the right questions when selecting an advisor. These include:
If you don’t understand something, ask again. If the advisor sidesteps a question, ask again. Stick to your guns.
Second, there’s ‘fairness’ as in ‘equality.’ But unfortunately, 44% of women who are their household’s main income earner generally feel as though financial advisors treat women differently than men.
Why does this happen? It’s likely a combination of a financial advisor buying into gendered stereotypes and the fact that women only comprise 16% of the financial services industry.[iii]
Additionally, consider this: 31% of newly-single women (either due to separation, divorce, or death of a spouse) who work with a financial advisor feel they are patronized. Among this group, half are considering finding another advisor.[iv]
If you’re a woman reading this, you know you deserve better than an advisor with whom you don’t feel 100% comfortable. If you’re married to a woman and working with an advisor, ask her what she truly thinks of that advisor.
The good news? There are a few ways to ‘vet’ an advisor for gender bias:
Learning how to make smart financial decisions isn’t going to happen magically. But becoming comfortable talking about money, as well as learning how to find an advisor who understands your specific situation, is one small step in the right direction.