So something exciting happened last week.
I attended an online webinar in my workplace, which had to do with topics I write about on this blog.
This was exciting because my day job rarely overlapped with my after-hour activities.
Yes, I 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 accurate money advice to my readers.
Because come on — 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!!
I’m happy to be the anecdotal example of how not to squander your money away over the years.
So 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, chomping at the bit to discover all the discussion might entail so that I could share my learnings with you all.
And while the following may be specific to women, I’d encourage any fellas to read it. Think of it from the perspective of your wife, mother, or sister.
Consider the information below as seen through the eyes of your daughter, 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 webinar title 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 in 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 report of recent events:
“In today’s news, women demand more from their prior money goals and healthy mindset.” Which I also believe to be true.
In addition, 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??
Some may read the statement: “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 appreciate some equal footing.
It isn’t often that we have the opportunity to receive sound financial advice explicitly directed toward women. But I decided I would take some notes when I returned to the presentation. To reflect upon later, as well as to share with others.
Or maybe it is, and I just haven’t noticed. Most documentation is geared toward the traditional progression of life. Go to college, get a job, get married, buy a house, and 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.
Gayle King kicked off the discussion – 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 leading causes of stress in your life? The two most significant stressors that women face are finances and health.
Specifically, per the online presentation, 85% of women stress about money, and 65% stress about diet, weight, and sleep.
And I wholeheartedly, 100% agree with all of that for myself. However, suppose I’m not stressing about having enough money for my future. In that case, I’m beating myself up over my physical appearance, health, and lack of motivation to improve it.
They also mention the fear of making mistakes and how women are afraid to make changes in their lives if 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 unknown territory. And unfamiliar territory is scary.
Progress, Not Perfection
So how can women get past the things that scare them and move forward into a lifestyle they can be happy with? What will encourage us to take action to improve our finances, health, and whatever else is contributing to our stress levels?
Well, it starts with finding your “Why.” So 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. “Doing better” can be defined as many things to many different people. Which, mind you, is entirely subjective.
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.
Identify the stress points that create overwhelm and prioritize them into actionable tasks. Because if you plan them out into measured steps, they’ll be much less overwhelming.
I mean, who wouldn’t benefit from an excellent list? I’m a sucker for a To-Do list and see the benefit in ranking priorities. Once you’ve identified the top few items on your list, everything else is much easier to manage. Because you break tasks down into smaller chunks, knowing the most important and impactful things will rise to the top.
Then once you’re on that path, make sure you celebrate the more minor accomplishments along the way. Celebrating your wins is so important to keep you motivated to continue going.
Managing Life Events
There are several major life events where women should get involved financially, but maybe some don’t like 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 discover they need to become more involved, ask more questions, and find ways to educate themselves. This 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 much more sense for everyone to handle the responsibilities equally?
Shifting mentality from a straight 50/50 split (for bills and joint accounts) to a “Yours, Mine, and Ours” mindset 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 performances as they see fit.
But ultimately, it comes down to clear communication, budgeting, and deciding how you want to live as a team. Where do you want your future to take you, and how will you get there?
Stressful Life Changes
When women get 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 occurrences change your lifestyle entirely, focusing on the impact of the money that may be furthest from your mind. (And I’d also throw an additional scenario in there, the death of a spouse, which would have multiple life-changing impacts).
Also, the biggest regret of women getting a divorce & just learning how to manage their money: 1) That they weren’t actively involved, followed by 2) They didn’t start earlier.
So many women prioritize everyone else above themselves, ignoring their own needs. Instead, they put everyone else first — children, spouse, job, etc.
But it would be best if you made yourself one of your priorities. Because if you always make yourself the least important thing, that becomes the expectation. And not just for yourself but also for those around you. Everyone is conditioned to think you are the least essential person; therefore, you get 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 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 stood out to me is that women will choose not to call a financial planner — even if it’s 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 the subconscious and limiting beliefs running 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 plenty of financial information on the internet; some of it is extremely dry and factual to a fault, which may be uninteresting for someone who needs to learn the fundamentals.
Sometimes it’s better to team up with others in a similar situation. Joining a community of women who can learn from each other to share their successes and struggles, building up the confidence to take that extra step and make your money work harder for you.
Many online communities focus on money conversations, and several are geared toward women. Having a safe place to discuss money topics without judgment or repercussions is essential.
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. Significantly 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.
- As women, we prioritize everyone else above us. But if we’re not meeting our needs, no one else will! Take time for yourself.
- Women need to demand more knowledge, confidence, involvement, leverage & stability, support, and happiness.
I’m so grateful my employer made this webcast available and that I had a chance to dial in and listen. (Again, this is not something I’m being compensated for whatsoever. I am just really enthusiastic about this topic.) if you’d like to learn more about the Women: Demand More presentation, and review some of the additional available documentation, below is a link to the Fidelity website.
But you can go to Fidelity.com/demandmore for a financial wellness checkup, checklists, and articles for life events specifically for women.