3 Steps to Build Female Financial Confidence
Who run the world? Girls. It’s a mantra we chant enthusiastically, but the financial reality may be a lot bleaker.
Women have made incredible strides in the workforce, but there is still a huge financial gender gap between men and women. This is true not only in terms of economic capital, but also in the way that women are perceived and treated when it comes to finances.
Even with greater higher education and career options available, girls have been conditioned to adhere to notions of a woman’s place in society (which has traditionally not been as an entrepreneur, CEO, and breadwinner), and women are fighting to get equal financial treatment.
Unsurprisingly, this takes a toll on the financial confidence of girls and women. It’s hard to feel like a girl boss when society is telling you that you’re less than.
It’s time to break that mold. Women deserve to feel comfortable and confident when dealing with money.
Interested in learning what it takes for women and young girls to become financially confident? Read on for actionable steps to put into practice right now.
Step No. 1: Become financially literate
Knowing more about finances is one of the most important ways for girls and women to feel more financially confident. We’re not talking about high-level investments. Understanding the basics of financial literacy, like how to budget or pay off debt, is the first foundational stepping stone to conquer.
A few of the basic financial literacy principles that everyone should know include:
1. Budgeting: This is the ability to create a budget based on income and expenses, take stock of needs and wants, adjust spending habits, and then stick to it.
2. Saving: Know the importance of contributing to a savings account, particularly an emergency fund to protect against unforeseen financial disasters. This should also include contributing to, or aspiring to contribute to, a retirement fund for future planning.
3. Credit: Know how to effectively manage credit — like credit cards and loans — including knowing the factors that help increase a credit score, which ultimately allows for better and cheaper financing options.
4. Debt: Know how to pay off credit card and loan debt by using smart strategies, such as the avalanche and snowball methods.
5. Insurance: Protecting yourself from risk by being financially prepared for the future. This includes having an up-to-date insurance policy as well as a will to manage assets according to your wishes.
6. Financial decision-making: Educate yourself about financial topics by taking a financial literacy course, making an appointment with a financial advisor, and putting the skills you’ve developed into practice.
Female-centered financial literacy
Now, let’s go a step further than the basics to talk about female-centered financial literacy.
That’s right. Financial literacy can be tailored for women by focusing on the topics that impact their economic futures the most.
For instance, every woman should be familiar with the current movement around the gender wage gap, which is the disparity between what men and women earn to do the same job. Did you know in 2018, full-time female workers only made 82 cents on the dollar for what men earned? That statistic is even worse for women of color.
There’s a wealth of women-centric financial topics out there that you should learn more about, so read up on this and other current topics in the news.
Step No. 2: Have conversations about money
The only way to break the stigma around money is to talk about it in a more open and honest dialogue. More transparency creates better conditions for all, but especially for women.
Don’t be afraid to start the conversation. Find a friend, family member, coworker, mentor, or financial adviser. Talk about your money issues or concerns and ask for their advice, whether professional or personal. It doesn’t hurt to share experiences with those from similar or different financial backgrounds. Maybe you’ll both learn something new.
For instance, sharing your salary (a stigmatized subject) with a fellow female coworker may lead you to realize that you’re underpaid. Armed with new information, you will know to not be so shy about asking for a raise in your next performance review, and you can go in prepared to show the value you provide as an employee.
By tapping into your network of strong, professional women and sharing stories, frustrations, and wins, you’ll all come away feeling a little more confident. Remember, there is strength in numbers.
Step No. 3: Tap into trusted resources
If there’s a financial topic that has you stumped, then turn to professional resources, such as nonprofits catering to women, news outlets, female-created content, and financial tools. Looking for resources when you’re uncertain or have questions is the best way to learn.
The list below is a great place to start when looking for a variety of resources, including relatable content created by women for women.
Empower Women: In October 2011, Canada and UN Women co-hosted the Ottawa Conference, where participants requested a platform to improve the sharing of research, evidence, and experiences on the economic empowerment of women. In response, Empower Women was born. Since then, the online platform has grown to include more than half a million viewers.
Financial Literacy Organization for Women and Girls: FLOW is a nonprofit dedicated to helping women and girls achieve financial success in spite of an economic environment that has become increasingly difficult to navigate. Programs focus on economic literacy, entrepreneurship, and asset building. FLOW aims to teach women and girls how to manage their money backed by knowledge, confidence, and financial clarity.
Women’s Institute for Financial Education: Founded by Candace Bahr and Ginita Wall, WIFE is the oldest nonprofit dedicated to empowering women through financial education. Their motto, “A Man is NOT a Financial Plan®,” informs the organization’s mission to empower women to become financially independent. The site provides free resources including articles, workshops, and guest speaking.
Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement: WISER is a nonprofit that focuses on the issues surrounding women’s retirement income, such as investments, divorce, widowhood, and more. It teaches women, educators, and policymakers about these issues by creating a variety of consumer materials, including fact sheets, booklets, and a newsletter.
Girlboss: Sophia Amoruso is the genius behind Girlboss. For those unfamiliar with this literal girl boss, Amoruso rose to fame as the founder and CEO of popular e-retailer Nasty Gal. Girlboss’ mission is to redefine what it means to be a successful woman. The site provides resources, tools, and a welcoming community to help women advance and succeed in the world.
HerMoney: Founded by Jean Chatzky, who has more than two decades of reporting experience on personal finance, HerMoney aims to improve the relationship women have with money. HerMoney is meant to level the playing field by giving women access to reliable financial resources, ultimately increasing financial security, confidence, and power.
Money Smart Women: Kiplinger is a standard for business news and personal finance advice. The publication’s Money Smart Women section provides the same high-quality information, but curated for women. The articles are described as providing “plain-English guidance addressing the financial concerns of women and offering savvy money-management strategies.”
Refinery29 Work & Money: One of R29’s verticals, the Work & Money section of the digital media company, is focused on finances, career, and development of young women. Money Diaries is arguably it’s most famous series, featuring real stories of women around the country, including their job, salary, and how they spend their hard-earned cash.
Clever Girls Know podcast: The host behind this podcast started out with a successful finance blog and online platform, Clever Girl Finance. Money expert Bola Sokunbi is a certified financial education instructor who provides women with easy-to-understand financial knowledge that puts the power of financial management back in their hands.
The Fairer Cents podcast: According to Forbes, this is “a must listen podcast for anyone who is ready to change the status quo.” Hosted by Kara Perez, founder of Bravely, and Tanja Hester, author of “Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way,” The Fairer Cents podcast covers everything from the wage and wealth gap to the economics of motherhood, and more.
Martinis and Your Money podcast: Hosted by Shannon McLay, a personal finance expert, Martinis and Your Money podcast features McLay sipping a martini while talking about money and career with friends and experts.
So Money podcast: If you haven’t heard of Farnoosh Torabi, then you’re missing out. Torabi is an award-winning financial strategist and host of the So Money podcast, where she talks to the top business minds, authors, and influencers about their financial journey. Listen along to hear their financial philosophies, as well as wins and failures.
Ellevest: Founded by Sallie Lee Krawcheck, Ellevest is a robo advisor designed with women in mind. It aims to close the gender investing gap and even has an option for “Ellevest Impact Portfolios,” which invest your money in companies that advance women, furthering positive social change.
Financial Confidence Worksheet
Are you feeling financially confident? Don’t worry if you’re not. It’s a trap to conflate a lack of financial confidence with a lack of financial competence. You’re entirely capable.
Now, it’s time to grow your confidence by putting into practice what you learned here. Check out our worksheet for actionable steps that you can take right now to feel more comfortable with money.
Real Stories of How Women Increased Their Financial Confidence
Kate Crowhurst, director of Money Bites
I increased my confidence in managing my money by getting started. It’s easy to put off the decision to get on top of your money because it seems daunting. However, the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll increase how much you know and feel more confidence with money decisions.
|Kate Crowhurst is a director of the personal finance platform Money Bites. A finance education specialist, she was awarded a place on Forbes 30 under 30 in 2018 for her work in this field and is on a mission to make money more accessible and bite-sized.|
Ilene Davis, CFP® and author of “Wealthy by Choice: Choosing Your Way to a Wealthier Future”
Get educated. My book [“Wealthy by Choice”] is an easy read, and shows how even small changes can add up to big dollars. Read “The Richest Man in Babylon.” I call that the granddaddy of all financial literacy books. “The Top 10 Distinctions Between Millionaires and the Middle Class” is an easy read, and makes the point in the first chapter that millionaires think long-term, middle class think short-term. As for investing, while I haven't read the latest version, I highly recommend Nick Murray's “Simple Wealth, Inevitable Wealth.”
It cannot only teach the information needed, but provides the self-confidence to know when a recommendation from a financial professional is in [the client’s] best interests or the financial professional's. The key is to feel that you know what questions to ask, and have at least basic confidence you will understand the answer.
|Ilene Davis has been a certified financial planner and financial professional for more than 30 years, working with clients of all ages and incomes. She is the author of the book, “Wealthy By Choice: Choosing your way to a Wealthier Future," and the inventor of the patented "Choosing Wealth® Calculator." Her dream is to increase the number of millionaires in America.|
Lauren Hasson, founder of DevelopHer
I found that women lack confidence in asking for more money and built an award-winning online course to help them build their confidence and ask for more money for their jobs.
The course came about after I found out a male peer was hired [for 50% more money] than me. Instead of getting mad, I invested in learning to build my confidence and learning to negotiate, and I tripled my salary in less than two years. I couldn’t find an affordable and accessible solution to point other women to, so I built it myself. The result is an award-winning platform that has impacted thousands of women.
|Lauren Hasson is the founder of DevelopHer and a senior engineer in apps and information security at a leading Silicon Valley fintech company. Hasson holds a degree from Duke University where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude with a triple major in electrical engineering, computer science, and economics. She founded DevelopHer to help fellow female professionals advance their careers, stand-out in their field, and negotiate for the salaries they deserve. Her work with DevelopHer has been featured in the international IEEE Women in Engineering Magazine; she has been hired by top companies like Google, Dell, Intuit, Armor, and more to train and inspire their women; she also received the Women in IT Awards Silicon Valley “Diversity Initiative of the Year” Award.|
Sandy Yong, personal finance author of “The Money Master”
I became financially confident by borrowing personal finance books from my local library and taking the time to learn how to become a DIY investor.
My tip for other women about how they can increase their confidence with money [is] to take the initiative to read books, blogs, and listen to podcasts. One of my favorite books is “Smart Women Finish Rich” by David Bach. I also liked reading “The Millionaire Next Door” by Thomas J. Stanley.
It's also important to start investing as early as possible to take advantage of compounding interest. You can do this by creating a financial portfolio and investing in the stock market and letting your money grow over the long term. This way you can have money work for you and you can achieve financial independence sooner.
|Sandy Yong is a personal finance author of “The Money Master: Inside Secrets On How To Make Your Money Grow and Stay Safe.” Yong has generated a successful self-directed financial portfolio and owns several Canadian income properties. As a professional speaker and toastmaster, she has educated female millennials on how to invest their money wisely. Her vision is to help people feel comfortable conversing about money and mental health, as both can be sensitive subjects that impact our daily lives.|