When it comes to earning and investing, studies have shown that women tend to lag behind men – often because of family responsibilities that take them fully or partially out of the workforce during key earning years. But according to a 2015 study by Fidelity Investments, they may also lack confidence; many women simply haven’t the time or inclination to build up their financial confidence (FC) levels.
The Fidelity study found that most women want to learn more about financial planning (92 percent) and be more involved in their finances (83 percent), but are uncomfortable discussing money, whether it’s with spouses or investment professionals.
That’s problematic, because at some point in their lives, most women will be the sole financial decision makers in their families. And women thrust into this role experience significant stress. According to a 2014 American Psychological Association study, about half of women surveyed were so stressed about money they couldn’t sleep (compared to 32 percent of men).
Fortunately, there are ways to boost women’s financial confidence that are readily available and often free or inexpensive. Here are five:
- Employer-sponsored programs. Many employers have workplace programs that offer financial guidance, yet 65 percent of women don’t take advantage of them, according to Fidelity.
- Books. There are many books designed to help women gain FC.
- Seminars. Many financial institutions offer workshops for women. While the emphasis may be on investing, many also offer a chance to share experiences, which can be inspiring to everyone.
- Networking. Four in five women avoid talking about finances with someone they’re close to because the topic feels uncomfortable, according to Fidelity. But while it may feel awkward at first, discussing money issues with trusted friends can be empowering.
- Advisors. Working with a financial professional offers women a chance to develop confidence with the guidance of a pro. Select your advisor carefully and feel comfortable asking questions.