Women understand the importance of networks. They help us build relationships, boost our confidence and celebrate our successes. Networks can be professional or personal, or they can revolve around a particular interest or issue. And they are one of the most dependable and trustworthy sources of information we have.
Looking for a new doctor or a plumber? Chances are your friend network can come up with a list of names for you to contact. Need a recommendation for the best Japanese restaurant in town or where to get a great hot-stone pedicure? Check with your network.
Women have no problem offering and taking advice and ideas. In fact, we rely on our friends and peer networks. Those are the opinions we trust, the people who have our backs and our best interests in mind.
So why don’t we tap into those same networks for advice on how to navigate the evolving world of financial services? Why should questions about where to invest or open a bank account be any different than asking for a gym recommendation? The answer is simple. Women still aren’t that comfortable talking about money.
THE STATS OF SILENCE
Of course, not all women struggle to talk about money. Plenty of us are masters of our own financial universe; in fact, we are financial advisers, wealth management gurus, rock star investors. Even so, the subject of money remains a touchy one. For example, 61% of women would rather talk about their own death than discuss financial matters with friends or colleagues. But avoiding those kinds of conversations is only hurting us.
A 2017 survey revealed that fewer than half of women feel they have a good handle on their knowledge of finances. Indeed, a majority are unhappy with their big financial picture, including their net worth, investments and retirement savings. So why aren’t more of us turning to our peer networks for answers?
Maybe we’ve been taught that talking about money is tacky or taboo, that financial information should be private and personal. Maybe we don’t want to be embarrassed if we make more than our friends. Maybe the struggle for work-life balance doesn’t always leave time for a crash course in financial literacy. So it’s just easier to steer clear of the money conversation altogether.
Ironically, more women than ever are working outside the home. In 40% of U.S. households, for instance, women carry the financial load, either as a single parent or the primary breadwinner. Moreover, nearly 90% of women will be in charge of their financial lives at some point through being single, widowed or divorced. Not only is it important for us to talk about money, it’s essential. Our financial health depends on it.
START THE CONVERSATION
That’s where our networks come in. The communities we turn to for advice on so many things can also help us navigate the financial world. Say you’re looking for a bank, one that offers more than the standard products, services and transactions. People in your network will have the recommendations you’re looking for. All you have to do is ask.
Coming up with a list of questions can help you narrow your focus. Here are just a few examples:
- Where do you bank? Does your bank offer online and mobile banking? Are there any fees? Does it cost anything to open an account?
- I’m thinking about buying a house. Where did you go for your home mortgage loan?
- What kinds of financial vehicles are you using – company 401(k), Roth IRA, traditional IRA – to save for retirement? What percentage of your salary are you setting aside every month?
- Have you ever been in credit card debt? How did you deal with it?
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Asking about where to buy a pair of shoes is easy; talking about money can be difficult. The more information you have from people and institutions you trust, the more empowered you’ll be to make decisions that will secure your financial future. Knowledge is power, and your network is more than likely ready to listen and help steer you in the right direction.