This is going to be a bit of a personal post about women and investing to start off a new series here at Persimoney. We’re going to talk money – the hard, honest truth about money. What it is, how to make it, how to save it, how to invest it. Oh yeah, ladies. We’re talking money. Get ready.
Women and Investing
Women control $14 trillion worth of U.S. personal wealth. Let that sink in for a minute. According to the Wells Fargo Investment Institute, women and investing should go hand in hand.
Yet women tend to be more conservative than their male counterparts when it comes to investing. This actually makes sense to me. Women live, on average, five years longer than men. We are the caretakers, the keepers of the household, the ones who keep chaos at bay. We wait. We plan. We think.
Women and investing is a subject that’s near and dear to my heart. I grew up in a very traditional household where my dad controlled the money and made the money. Money wasn’t discussed in my home. I remember my dad having a fit when the financial aid application for college asked his annual income; it was like asking him about sex. A subject you just didn’t talk about.
But I want to talk about women and investing. I want to talk about money, and how women can make more of it. I want to talk about saving it so you can spend it later on things that matter: education, housing, travel, and the life experiences that matter to you.
I’m turning 50 next year and it’s taken me a good thirty years to understand something very simple: money is life energy. This is a concept that was first presented in the early 1990s in the book Your Money or Your Life, a book that changed my understanding of what money actually is and what it is not. (Disclaimer: That’s an Amazon affiliate link for me.)
In economics, money is referred to as a medium of exchange. What you decide to exchange it for is up to you. You can exchange it with a bank so that they can invest it in their own projects; they pay you interest for that use of your money. You can exchange money for a pack of cigarettes that will shorten your life. You can exchange money for a college degree that will take you closer to your dreams of becoming a doctor, professor, lawyer, fashion designer, accountant, art historian, you name it.
In short, money is just a medium of exchange. It holds no power over us. Yet when it comes to women and investing, we give a lot of our power away. We give it to the men in our lives who, like my dad, kept a tight rein on the finances, mostly due to fear.
I understand his fear. I really do. He was raised during the Great Depression and saw his friends evicted from their apartments. He remembered bread lines and poverty and unspeakable deprivation that I can’t even imagine.
However, fear shouldn’t rule the next generation of investors. Just because my dad lived during a time when money equaled scarcity doesn’t mean that I have to adopt that mindset, too.
Women, let me ask you this: when it comes to investing, are you afraid? Are you scared you’re going to lose money? Are you afraid you’ll make the wrong decision and hurt your family? Are you afraid of poverty?
I can’t tell you not to be afraid. Some fear is healthy. It keeps us from doing something stupid. It keeps us from doing what some jerk did during the Mega Millions run up. He cashed in his savings account to buy lottery tickets. He spent $3,000 to buy tickets to try to win $1 billion. Sounds reasonable, until he lost, and was left with nothing.
Look, we’ve all got fears. But at some point, we have to make a move. I am not a financial advisor, an investment advisor, or even someone who does advisement for a living.
What I am is a middle-aged woman who’s had to learn all this stuff from scratch because she didn’t learn it at home or at school. So let’s roll up our sleeves and talk money over the next few weeks here on Persimoney, where smart women come for smart tips.