Finances: Gaining confidence as a woman

We look at why some women say they don’t understand money – and how they can empower themselves to make informed decisions for a more secure future.

The value of money

What would you say your relationship is like with money, such as the habits that inform the ways you spend or save?

While some women love to lavish their money on family and friends, others enjoy a bit of bargain-hunting or putting away some savings for a rainy day. Whatever your decisions, emotion is a big driving force behind them – be it guilt, fear, boredom or even peer-pressure.

It doesn’t matter where you work or what your household budget is – if there’s a savings plan purchased or money put away in a savings plan, how often do you hear your own friends confess that they’re not good with money?

This phrase may be said without much thought, but its impact can take a toll on both your financial and emotional well-being, by preventing you from having financial independence or hindering the ability to plan for the future.

Old habits die hard

A main cause of this confidence failure is simply a lack of financial education – do you remember being taught about money and saving at school? But that’s only part of the story; as with other personality traits, many of us have also inherited money traits from our parents.

It was only in 1975 that women in the UK were even allowed to open their own bank accounts, after the introduction of the Sex Discrimination Act. Growing up, it’s likely that it was the man of the house in charge of managing the money – and while times have changed, it’s hard not to subconsciously carry on these traditions through the generations.

Our response to money can also be wrapped up in emotion, particularly negative feelings. But the feeling of financial security – aside from building up wealth per se – also brings about positive feelings of well-being, independence, freedom and control.

Research from the WealthiHer Network1 shows that men are roughly twice as likely to have high self-esteem than women, and those women that did describe themselves as having high self-esteem had earned wealth through their career. In fact, almost half (46%) also said that financial autonomy was a key driver of self-esteem.

Olga Miller, Co-founder of SmartPurse, a financial education platform for women, agrees with this. She says:

“Our relationship with money has a huge influence on our lives, far beyond covering the costs of everyday life and providing financial security. Consciously or subconsciously, it impacts our physical well-being, our stress levels and our relationships. That’s why one in two women in our research report an increase in their overall confidence as a result of sorting out their financial affairs.

“While being confident with money might not come as naturally as we might think to many people, given history, societal norms and inherited values, adopting a positive mindset and getting a grip on your money is easier than one might think. It all starts with the simple things. Look at it this way: you can’t dress well if you have a big mess in your closet. Same goes for money.”

Steps to improve your financial confidence

To get this sense of control and financial confidence, firstly acknowledging your current relationship with money is vital to understanding why you do the things you do.

Talking is also a great way to improve confidence – push aside the embarrassment and be honest and open with your friends about money. What are they doing with their savings? Are they putting money into a pension? However uncomfortable the conversation may feel to begin with, both of you will most likely feel empowered and inspired by the end of it.

And if it feels too awkward to talk to a friend, talking to a financial adviser can also help. Research carried out by St. James’s Place with ILC2 shows that people of both genders felt that taking advice about their finances made them feel more confident and better prepared, with women in particular finding that it helped them feel more financially literate and more empowered to make informed decisions.

We often hear women telling us that they are too ashamed to admit that they have not made good financial plans; they want to ask lots of questions and really need to understand the pros and cons before making decisions. A good adviser will be non-judgemental and prepared to answer any question thrown at them – giving you the perfect environment to learn and gain confidence.

And once you’ve gained confidence, security, well-being and resilience won’t be far behind.

To find out more about how to boost your financial confidence, speak to a Wellesley financial adviser.

SmartPurse is a unique money coaching and learning toolbox offering independent financial education and information for women. Through an innovative digital platform, you can access training courses; self-learn modules; and join a vibrant community of women taking control of their money.

Sources:

1 WealthiHer Network, The Changing Faces of Women’s Health, 2021, total number surveyed 2,239

2 ILC and St. James’s Place Wealth Management, Peace of Mind: Understanding the non-financial benefits of financial advice, 2020

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