Ask the Expert: Women and Finances
We know that men and women tend to face life's challenges differently and our finances are no exception. So we asked financial planner Brittney Castro how and why women should take a front seat to their financial plan. Brittney is also the woman behind Financially Wise Women, a financial planning service that specializes in helping women get educated about their finances and to reach their financial goals.
Why is financial planning important for everyone, but women in particular?
There are unique challenges women face when it comes to planning for their financial future: Women live longer than men, earn less than men, and are out of the workforce on average 11 years to care for kids and their aging parents.
These factors alone make financial planning even more important, as women have to make sure to plan as much as possible to overcome these challenges when working on their financial goals of building a cash cushion, paying off debt, saving for a home down payment, and retirement.
Why did you decide to focus your business on women?
Being a woman in the financial industry, I knew the importance of being able to communicate and educate women about money in an empowered way. I felt there was a huge disconnect between the financial industry and the women they serve and wanted to build my business in a way that helped women with their financial goals and dreams and inspired them to live their dream lives using their money.
Why do you think it’s important for women to be involved in financial planning, even if their partner is able to take the lead?
I believe women need to understand what is happening in their financial lives regardless of who is taking the lead on managing the household finances. Women are staying single longer, the divorce rate is still 50 percent and higher, and women tend to live 5-7 years longer than men. These facts alone mean a woman has a 90 percent chance of being in control of her finances at some point in her life, if not already, and therefore it is extremely important to know what is going on now, instead of waiting for something to happen and feeling completely overwhelmed and clueless about her own financial status.
Do you see a lot of women who are comfortable taking control of their finances?
Yes, I find that the women I work with, who are in their 30-40’s are getting more comfortable taking care of their finances. I think there are a lot of savvy women leading the way to inspire others to gain control over their finances. It is a lot more common now to see finance articles and blogs on all sorts of women’s publications and with the internet, financial information is at our fingertips. These facts make it more comfortable for women to begin the process of taking control of their finances and becoming educated.
How can women use their network of friends and family to become more comfortable managing their money?
Women can start finance circles where they meet with a group of other women, friends, and family, to learn about money management and investing. This is something that they can do on a regular basis, say monthly, to stay inspired and educated in their financial lives.
It goes back to the idea that women are gatherers, and have a natural instinct to gather and support and learn from one another in life.
Brittney Castro is a financial planner based in California. She's also the owner of Financially Wise Women, a company that offers financial planning services, online education, live workshops, and speaking engagements.
Well, we're convinced. Excuse us while we go take a serious look at our financial health. Do you want to learn more about your home and your finances? Check out our Finance Friday series, learn about budgeting, and break out the calculators.