Why Are Women Under-Confident When It Comes To Managing Their Finances?

Posted By Kim Spencer, CFP®, CDFA® on Jul 30, 2020


By Kim Spencer, CFP®, CDFA®

I’ve been helping women as a financial advisor for over 30 years. In that time I’ve noticed that many women lack confidence in managing their finances. Though this problem has many causes, there are steps women can take to help gain more confidence and better manage their money. 

There is a fundamental difference in how women and men approach money. Often, women have too many goals at the same time and have a hard time prioritizing them. Many women also believe the money they currently have is all they will ever have, similar to the amount of water in a lake. Men, however, view their money as a river, always replenishing with more water. Feeling that money is scarce and must be held onto leads women to be more conservative in their investments. As a result, women often hold their money in a savings account rather than in the stock market. Though that can be the safest approach in terms of not losing money, it means that many women risk their money by not growing enough to fund their retirement or other goals. 

Women And Financial Challenges

Women also face unique financial challenges, summarized below:

  • Women live longer than men. Women live an average of about 81 years, compared to 76 for men. (1) Because many women outlive their husbands, they’re often alone in their later years. That can create problems for a widower who never handled any of the couple’s finances or a woman who outlives her retirement nest egg. 
  • Women earn less money than men. Though the pay gap is narrowing, it still exists. Currently, the average woman earns just 81 cents for every dollar a man earns. (2) That gap can lead to thousands less in earnings over a career, leaving women on average with less money to save and invest. I often see quite elderly women working in retail and fast food, which, sadly, they likely aren’t doing for social engagement.
  • Women often serve as primary caregivers. Many women are the primary caregivers within their families, even in their later years, leaving them less time to focus on their finances. Many women also take time out of the workforce to care for children or older family members, cutting into their earnings. 

Women And Financial Advisors

When couples seek out financial help, many financial advisors focus their attention on the male partner in review meetings, leaving women to feel excluded and less willing to ask questions and learn more about their investments. This leads to a cycle of uncertainty around women and  finances.

Though greater financial literacy can help women be more confident with their finances, this education needs to go beyond stock picks and how to open a retirement account. Women need someone to listen to them and validate their feelings. A trusted financial advisor can help. 

I see this play out in my practice. I host Women’s Circle meetings where small groups of women get together to discuss topics such as retirement, estate planning, and investing, so they can grow in financial literacy and make the best decisions for their lives. A woman who attended was quite fearful about being there and expressed nervousness about her situation. After the class, she emailed me to see if I would sit down with her and her husband to explain their finances to her. They came in; the husband had done a great job saving and investing for their future. He explained what they had to me, and I, in turn, explained it to her in different words. As I did, she visibly relaxed, and they went on their way. 

Sometime later, she contacted me about becoming her advisor. Her husband is doing a great job, but now she has someone who will listen to her when he isn’t around. They’re planning for the future when she may become a widow. 

Gaining Financial Confidence

Gaining confidence in handling your finances is the first step in making positive decisions. The Nalls Sherbakoff Group is here to guide you. We can assess your current financial situation, help you make the necessary changes, or affirm that your investments are exactly where they should be. Don’t hesitate to call (865) 691-0898 or contact us online to schedule a complimentary consultation. 

About Kim

Kim Spencer is a financial planner at The Nalls Sherbakoff Group, LLC with over 30 years of industry experience. Kim is passionate about equipping and empowering women to take control of their finances and specializes in walking women through transitions, including divorce and death of a spouse. Kim holds both the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®) designations. She leads an ongoing series of Women’s Circles where small groups of women get together to discuss topics such as retirement, estate planning, and investing so they can grow in financial literacy and make the best decisions for their lives. Kim also teaches local workshops on financial planning for divorce. When she’s not working, Kim loves to give back to her community. She currently serves as an advocate in the juvenile court system through CASA of the Tennessee Heartland. She works with the Homeless Task Force in Blount County and is a past board member/president with the East Tennessee Financial Planning Association. She loves nothing more than spending time with her family, which includes 3 sons, 2 daughters-in-law, and three precious grandchildren. To learn more about Kim, connect with her on LinkedIn. You can also connect with her on her Women and Money Facebook page.

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(1) https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr68/nvsr68_07-508.pdf

(2) https://www.payscale.com/data/gender-pay-gap