When Worlds Collide
So something really interesting happened last week.
I attended an online webinar in my workplace, and it had to do with topics that I write about on this blog.
Which was super exciting for me, because very rarely does my day job overlap with my after hour activities.
Yes, I do work in the financial services industry — but the actual topic of my work is not something I blog about. I’m not a financial advisor, and don’t offer actual money advice to any of my readers.
Because, c’mon — that would just be asking for trouble, now wouldn’t it?
Plus — see my Disclaimer — I will never even pretend to offer financial advice to anyone who reads my blog. Unless it were to say “Hey you, stop being like me! And cut up those blasted credit cards!!”
But other than that, I’m happy to just be the anecdotal example of how not to fritter your money away over the years.
Which is why I was tickled up and down to see my employer partner with Fidelity to offer this free online webinar. I jumped right onto that opportunity, and signed up for the very first presentation. And was chomping at the bit to discover all the discussion might entail, so I could share my learnings with you all.
And while the following may be specific to women, I’d encourage any fellas out there to read it as well. Think of it from the perspective of your wife, or mother, or sister.
Consider the information below as seen through the eyes of your daughter, or future granddaughter, or niece.
Note: This is not a sponsored or affiliate post. It’s just information I learned and wanted to share.
Women Demand More
The title of the webinar was “Women: Demand More From Your Money & Health“.
And note the placement of the punctuation — that colon after “Women”. Because you can interpret this statement several ways. (At least I did).
It’s written to be instructional, like “Hey ladies, you need to demand more from your money and your health!”
But without the punctuation, it could be read as a reporting of recent events:
“In today’s news, women are demanding more from their prior money goals and health mindset.” Which I also believe to be true.
And in addition to that, there may even be a small percentage of the population who take offense to the statement, believing it to be confrontational. Because so many of us women are confrontational, right??
So some may read the statement as: “Women are demanding, by wanting more money and better health options.” Ick.
To those people, I would say this: Take a breath. Not everything is about you. We are not looking to take over the world. We’d just appreciate some equal footing.
But anywho — getting back to the presentation, I decided I would take some notes. To reflect upon later, as well as to share with others. Because it isn’t often that we’re provided the opportunity to receive sound financial advice directed specifically towards women.
Or maybe it is, and I just haven’t noticed. Most documentation I’ve seen is geared toward the traditional progression of life. Go to college, get a job, get married, buy a house, have kids. There hasn’t been a ton out there honing in on situations that might be outside of that perceived norm.
Who were the webinar speakers? A trio of super impressive and inspirational leaders.
The discussion was kicked off by Gayle King – co-host of CBS This Morning and editor-at-large of O, the Oprah Magazine. She also facilitated the conversation with Mindy Grossman – President and CEO of WW (formerly named Weight Watchers), and Kathy Murphy – President of Fidelity Personal Investing.
And rather than go over the entire presentation play by play, I will touch upon several moments that resonated with me.
Women and Stress
What are the main causes of stress in your life? The two biggest stressors that women face are about finances and health.
Specifically, per the online presentation, 85% of women stress about money and 65% of women stress about diet, weight, and sleep.
And I wholeheartedly, 100% agree with all of that for myself. If I’m not stressing about having enough money for my future, then I’m beating myself up over my physical appearance, health, and lack of motivation to improve all of it.
To top it all off, they also mention the fear of making mistakes. How women are afraid to make changes in their life, in case it winds up being the wrong choice. Whether it’s about money, diet, career, or relationships — it’s so much easier to remain stuck where you are, within your comfort zone.
Because if you make that leap to try something new, you’re entering into unknown territory. And unknown territory is scary.
Progress, Not Perfection
So how can women get past the things that scare them, and move forward into a lifestyle that they can be happy with? What will encourage us to take action so we can improve our finances, health, and whatever else is contributing to our stress levels?
Well, it starts with finding your “Why”. What’s your “Why” for wanting to get healthy, or improve your finances — What keeps you motivated?
This is the crux of the situation that will allow you to do better. Which, mind you, is entirely subjective. “Doing better” can be defined as many things to many different people.
Whether it’s getting out of debt vs. becoming a millionaire. Or losing 5 lbs vs. losing 50 lbs. Or even allowing yourself to go to bed one hour earlier, so you can wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the next day.
Identifying the stress points that create overwhelm, and prioritizing them into actionable tasks. Because if you plan them out into measured steps, they’ll be a lot less overwhelming.
I mean, who wouldn’t benefit from a really good list? I’m a sucker for a To-Do list, and definitely see the benefit in ranking priorities. Once you’ve identified the top few items on your list, everything else is so much easier to manage. Because you break tasks down into smaller chunks, knowing the very most important and impactful items will rise to the top.
Then once you’re on that path, make sure you celebrate the smaller accomplishments along the way. Celebrating your wins is so important, in order to keep you motivated to continue going.
Managing Life Events
There are several major life events where women should get really involved from a financial perspective, but maybe some of them don’t. Like when getting engaged, getting married, buying a house, or starting a family. “Traditionally”, the husband may have been the person to take the lead in such situations.
In today’s environment and culture, women are discovering they need to become more involved, ask more questions, and find ways to educate themselves. Which is not to say their partner should be free and clear of any obligation to communicate with them.
But I think in past decades (speaking as a Gen X’er), we may have depended more on the male role to take care of all the bills, while the female role would run the household. Again, this is not exclusive — But as relationships evolve, doesn’t it make so much more sense for everyone to handle the responsibilities equally?
And to go even further, shifting mentality from a straight 50/50 split (for bills and joint accounts), to a “Yours, Mine, and Ours” mindset. Which would act in the best interest of all involved. You’d have one account to make sure the bills get paid, and then each partner could manage the money in their individual accounts as they see fit.
But ultimately, it comes down to clear communication, budgeting, and deciding as a team how you want to live. Where do you want your future to take you, and more importantly, how will you get there?
Stressful Life Changes
When women were asked about the most stressful life changes they’ve encountered, the top three triggers were getting a divorce, becoming an “empty nester”, and if an adult child moved back in.
These are occurrences that change your lifestyle so completely, focusing on money impacts may be furthest from your mind. (And I’d also throw an additional scenario in there, death of a spouse, which would obviously have multiple life-changing impacts).
Also, the biggest regret of women getting a divorce & just learning how to manage their money: 1) That they hadn’t been actively involved, followed by 2) They didn’t start earlier.
Apparently so many women prioritize everyone else above themselves, leaving their own needs to ignored. They put everyone else first — children, spouse, job, etc.
But you need to make yourself one of your priorities. Because if you always make yourself the least important thing, then that becomes the expectation. And not just for yourself, but also for those around you. Everyone will be conditioned to think you are the least important person, therefore you are continually treated that way.
And what a sucky feeling that would be … speaking as someone who knows.
It’s like — You are the lifeboat. You are keeping everyone and everything afloat in times of trouble. And then the big yacht comes along to save all of the occupants and bring them to safety. But you’re just left in the water, floating around to fend for yourself. Eventually you hit a few jagged pieces of coral and sink to the bottom of the sea with the rest of the garbage and detritus. Awesome.
Living Your Best Life
Something else that really stood out to me is that women will choose not to call a financial planner — even if it’s totally free — because they don’t want to “sound stupid”.
So why would women feel stupid for wanting to educate themselves? Maybe it’s due to subconscious and limiting beliefs running circles in our heads such as “I should already know this stuff”, or “This person on the phone is going to realize how badly I screwed things up”.
But you know what? That stuff truly does not matter. What matters is getting on solid ground, and improving your situation. And when you think about it, financial planners are trained to explain the basics.
And more than that — People don’t just want education, they want inspiration. There’s a ton of finance information out on the internet, some of it extremely dry and factual to a fault. Which may be totally uninteresting for someone who is just needing to learn the fundamentals.
Sometimes it’s better to team up with others who are in a similar situation. Joining a community of women who can learn from each other, to share their successes as well as their struggles. Building up confidence to take that extra step and make your money work harder for you. There are many online communities that focus on money conversations, as well as several that are specifically geared toward women. It’s important to have a safe place to discuss money topics, with no judgement or repercussions.
Summary – Women Demand More
As a wrap-up, here are some points I’ve taken away from the Women: Demand More online presentation —
- Money and health concerns share a lot in common. Both can cause a lot of stress, especially in women.
- Don’t be afraid to learn something new. Especially if it will help solidify your path for the future.
- Financial concepts don’t need to be overwhelming. Take a new topic and break it down into smaller, manageable chunks.
- Celebrate your accomplishments. Even small wins go a long way to remaining motivated.
- Take time for yourself. As women, we prioritize everyone else above us. But if we’re not getting our needs met, then no one else will either!
- Women need to demand more — More knowledge, more confidence, more involvement, more leverage & stability, more support and more happiness.
I’m so grateful my employer made this webcast available, and that I had a chance to dial in and listen. If you’d like to find out more about the Women: Demand More presentation, and review some of the additional documentation that’s available, below is a link to the Fidelity website. (Again, this is not something I’m being compensated for whatsoever. I just really am enthusiastic about this topic.)
But you can go to Fidelity.com/demandmore for a financial wellness checkup plus checklists and articles for life events specifically for women.
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