Being financially savvy is enormously empowering for women, and can help you make important financial decisions throughout your lifetime.
But all too often, many of us women feel as if our finances are out of control.
Sometimes, things are going haywire because of events that aren’t of our doing – like when you get downsized suddenly and can’t pay the bills.
But other times, our finances seem to be a wreck because of things we’ve done – like overspending – or even things we’ve failed to do, such as putting aside a little money for emergencies.
So think about it rationally for a moment – without getting depressed, and without putting on rose-colored glasses either – and then ask yourself whether you are managing your finances wisely, or poorly.
According to a recent survey from Prudential Financial, 53% of women in America are the primary breadwinners in their households.
So it’s more important than ever to manage your finances wisely and keep money problems at bay.
Here are six ways to know if you’re a financially savvy woman:
#1: You Stick to a Realistic Budget
Financially-savvy women know how much it costs to run their household. They also know how much they’re bringing in each month and how much of that income is going out to pay bills or to beef up savings and investments. Ditto for their knowledge about what their spouse or significant other is doing with money earned.
Keeping your head in the sand about your mate’s finances isn’t just financially foolish; it could be downright dangerous to your financial health.
So update your budget regularly and reference it frequently to stay on track financially. Ignoring budgeting altogether can put you on the fast track to debt problems and fiscal mismanagement.
#2: You Have Savings Goals and Regularly Save Money
Do you know the difference between a CD, money market, and regular savings account? How much do you have invested in different types of savings accounts and investments?
Financially-savvy women are aware of the value of returns on different types of savings accounts, and also have some short-term and long-term savings goals.
They’ve mapped out a game plan to reach their goals and know that sometimes they have to have a professional (think: accountant, financial advisor, broker, etc.) to help them reach their goals.
If you’re not saving some money – and it could be as little as $25 or $50 a month – it’s time to become a more diligent and better saver, not just a spender.
#3: You’re Not Addicted to Credit Cards
One of the hardest money habits to break is living off the credit cards. Whether you’ve enjoyed one too many shopping sprees or you just count on your credit cards to take care of some bills now and then, increasing your debt load haphazardly is never a smart decision.
Financially-savvy women know how to live within their means – even when everyone around them seems to be living the high life.
For a financially smart woman, credit cards are a convenience, but they certainly don’t amount to financial dependence. That’s because these women know the importance of paying credit card bills (and all monthly bills) in full on time. Doing so keeps your finances under and helps you maintain a great credit rating.
#4: You Have an Emergency Cash Cushion
Financially savvy women know how important it is to set aside a percentage of their income towards an emergency savings account or emergency fund. Having at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses stashed away in a savings account is a great start.
A year or more worth of your living costs is even better. You never really know when emergencies arise – you could lose your job, your spouse might become ill, or you may be in an accident where you have to pay for some high medical expenses – so you need to have financial resources available.
You can’t just build up three months worth of expenses overnight. But set aside emergency funds regularly and without fail. Consistently working on building up that emergency fund is one of the best ways to increase your level of financial security.
#5 You Don’t Abdicate Financial Responsibility
I tell people all the time “Nobody is going to care more about your personal finances than you do.”
Financially savvy women recognize this instinctively, so they resist the urge to pawn off financial matters onto others. They’re the opposite of women who think “This money stuff isn’t for me,” or “Finances are too complicated.”
Don’t fall for such misguided sentiments or let yourself believe this. You can master your money just as easily as a man can. That’s why financially savvy women don’t completely abdicate their financial affairs to any man – not hubby, not daddy, not Sugar Daddy. No one.
As I said: “Nobody is going to care more about your personal finances than you do.”
#6 You Strategize for the Long-Term
Short-sighted people think only about the here and now. But financially astute women (and men too) plan for and consider the future.
Of course, they don’t just sit there and ponder month after month without taking action. They take the proper steps to make sure they do whatever is necessary to protect themselves, their families and their assets.
For example, they’ve created a will; they make sure they have life insurance; they save for their kids’ college education; and they invest for retirement.
Now that you have an idea of what a financially savvy women looks like, what’s the verdict when you look in the mirror?
Are you a financially savvy woman too? If the answer is no, just say “not yet” – because getting your financial act together isn’t rocket science.
Each of us has it within our power to become a financially savvy woman – and today is as good a day as any to get started.