Do you often get stressed out and overwhelmed about your money and finances? Or feel like you have no idea what you’re doing? Well, today we are here to tell you that you are not alone and give you tips for how to overcome this feeling.
If you’ve ever felt this way, or are currently feeling this way, you’ve come to the right place. Today we’re talking about anxieties about money, and how this plays a role in the relationship between women and their financial lives. So let’s dive in!
Am I the only one anxious about money?
Absolutely not! We know money can be overwhelming. Money touches everything from housing to relationships to quality of life. Feeling like you don’t have enough can sink into every aspect of your life, and it makes perfect sense. Anxieties about money can differ for everyone, but it's important to know that you are not alone. Even here at Untangle Money, each of us have experienced our own anxieties about money. Some of these anxieties include (but are not limited to):
Having debt or paying off debt,
Monthly expenses (rent, insurance, bills, groceries),
Salaries (not making as much as someone else or making more - and feeling unworthy or guilty about it)
Just not feeling in control
Unfortunately money and personal finance tend to be taboo topics, especially among women, so they aren’t talked about enough. When we interviewed over 100 women, we saw they used words like ‘complicated’, ‘stressful’ and ‘full of jargon’ when discussing their relationship with money. We know that financial anxiety can feel isolating, but we really want to drive home the fact that you’re not alone.
"I can vaguely remember being taught (briefly) about investing and RRSPs in my high school accounting course, which was an elective (and only 5-6 out of around 25 students were girls. But after that course finished I never really learned more beyond that basic knowledge unless I went out of my way to learn on my own." - Lisa W.
"I studied finance in university, and joined the male-dominated banking industry once I graduated. For all intents and purposes, I should be GREAT at managing my money - turns out, it didn’t quite go that way. I found personal finance difficult to understand, and was frustrated that I couldn’t figure it out. I didn’t know where to turn or what to do when it came to retirement, savings, or taxes." - Kate S.
A report by Toronto-based EQ bank, showed that only 31% of Canadian women feel confident in managing their money in comparison to 49% of Canadian men. In addition, the report showed that women are not satisfied with this lack of confidence. Only 38% of women feel happy with their financial knowledge, in contrast to 55% of men. These numbers can help you to feel better knowing it's a systemic issue and not just you. But, it can also help to empower you knowing that it's not completely out of reach. As a woman, you absolutely can be financially independent.
Is it normal to be overwhelmed about financial planning?
Yes, it is completely normal to feel stressed when it comes to your money and planning for your financial future. In fact, only 40% of people have a financial plan (this number is more than capable of increasing). But the reality is a financial plan is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety about money.
A study from Northwestern Mutual showed that while money was the number one source of stress for respondents, 9 in 10 Americans say nothing makes them happier / more confident than feeling like their finances are in order.
Depending on your current financial state, your financial goals, and plans for retirement, among other things, the thought of a financial plan may at first seem overwhelming, unreachable, and expensive. But a proper financial plan that's catered to you will actually help to alleviate that stress and hopefully make you feel like your goals are achievable. At Untangle Money, we offer personalized financial planning at an affordable price, and in a way that works for you. Check out the Untangle Money Financial Plan here.
It is also important to remember that financial planning is very individual - the optimal financial plan will look different for everyone. It’s never too early or too late to start thinking, learning about and planning your financial future (though we always advise women to start as early as they can). You don’t have to have it all figured out at once, so remember not to compare yourself to someone else: you know yourself best!
Do women experience money and finance differently than men?
Yes! As we’ve mentioned before (check out Untangling Our Story), women’s financial lives are significantly different than men’s.
The finance industry tends to have a “one size fits all” approach to money and financial planning. No surprise, this is because financial products are made by men, for men - women unfortunately are an afterthought.
So what does this mean?
Well, a lot of factors that affect women are not always taken into consideration in terms of creating financial products, financial planning, and teaching about money management. These factors include, but aren’t limited to:
Women around the world are still paid less than their male counterparts, AND women tend to take on lesser paying roles
Women are more likely to take time off for things such as maternity leave or care-taking for elders
The Pink Tax: women pay up to $2,135 more for stuff a year for things like hair, dry-cleaning, menstrual products, birth control, auto repairs, long-term care, as well as products and services such as credit (higher mortgage rates and credit card rates)
Can we share a pet peeve? A lot of financial “advice” for women seems to centre around shaming us for the things that women “typically” tend to spend their money on. For example, have you ever been or even just felt shamed for spending money on buying yourself a coffee, getting your nails done, buying a new clothing item, eating out or going for drinks (the list goes on)? If you answered yes, you’re not alone.
The language used to talk about spending habits, managing money, saving, etc., tends to differ between men and women. If you haven’t already noticed, you may now start to catch on. For example, a lot of blogs and Instagram posts on “tips for saving money” for women, usually include: “Don’t buy a coffee everyday”, “Stop getting your nails done”, “Do you really need eyelash extensions?”, and so many other not-so subtle jabs. Whereas for men, they will typically talk about different savings and investment accounts, investing your money, the stock market, and other actual useful resources.
The truth is, your spending habits may not be necessarily bad or good. They vary person to person and depending on what your current and future needs are financially, you will have to adjust your spending habits accordingly. We touched on this in our last blog post, Budgeting and Financial Planning, Why You Need Them, but in the next section we’ll talk about how to build a better relationship with what you spend your money on and how you engage with your money and finances. Overall though, you should never feel ashamed for what you choose to spend your money on, because you know yourself best!
So how do I handle my anxieties about money and financial planning?
While financial inequality disproportionately impacts women and helps create these anxieties about money and financial planning, learning to combat these anxieties is by no means a lost cause. There are a lot of ways you can overcome this. Most importantly, the more women take charge of their money and finances, becoming more financially independent, the more we’ll start to see a change in the industry.
On a more individual level, it all comes down to building a healthier relationship between yourself, money and finance. The same goes for how you interact and engage with money, like your spending habits. Referring back to our blog post from last week (here), one of the best things you can do is to create a budget and financial plan that can help alleviate your anxieties about money, setting you up for financial success and financial independence. Having a way to track your income and expenses, as well as a plan for your NOW money and FUTURE money, will ease your stress and hopefully make things less overwhelming for you.
Ensuring you save for an emergency can also help with financial anxiety - that money acts as a buffer to stop you from going into debt. At Untangle Money, we call this a 'Life Happens' account because they money is there for you to use when life happens. This can help act as your financial cushion when all of those unexpected expenses pop up out of the blue (your car needs repairs, health expenses, really anything!). We advice women to aim towards saving around $2500 in their Life Happens account.* Unfortunately we don't know what life will throw our way, but by having an emergency fund at least you will be prepared for anything and everything. This will be a huge stress reliever in terms of handling your financial anxieties.
*This amount is shown to be the minimum amount you need to avoid taking on additional debt to deal with unexpected or emergency expenses.
Another important thing to consider is joining the conversation It is so important for women to talk about their lived experiences with money and financial management, and to create safe spaces for growth. Lots of women we have spoken to found that while the men they know talked to each other about investing, stocks, and finance often, their female friends just, well, didn’t. Luckily, the conversation about women and money is becoming more and more commonplace. Here at Untangle we’ve curated an awesome community of women and supporters - follow us on social (Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook), join our Slack channel, or just reach out to join the conversation.
Financial independence is a huge part of being a strong, independent woman, it is our mission to help women successfully set themselves up financially.
At Untangle Money we help women understand their (real!) financial picture, and obtain financial guidance from people that actually, really, get it. We would love to help you, too. Join the community of hundreds of other women looking to strengthen their financial well-being. Get in touch here for a free consultation!