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Parte 2: Las Mujeres y la Seguridad Económica

Part 2: Women and Financial Security

by Monica Steinisch

Part one of this series discussed women's financial fears. The series continues with steps you can take now to overcome these fears.

Overcome fears through action

"You're not going to get any better at dealing with your finances by standing on the sidelines," says Peters, who along with other experts urges women to face their money fears head-on.

Here are some specific steps you can take to dispel your fears and prepare for a financially secure future:

  • Learn about money management. When it comes to matters of personal finance, ignorance is not bliss. Learn about money management, investing, and financial planning by reading articles and books, visiting reputable personal finance and investing Web sites, and requesting information from trusted sources such as the professionals at your credit union. Peters encourages those who are new to finances to find and associate with people of like mind, through classes, clubs, and online and offline communities.
  • Be involved in the household finances. To avoid a harsh wake-up call like Perle's, women need to be actively involved in the family finances. Insist on being included in financial tasks and decisions even if someone else says they'll take care of it or resists your involvement. Wilson says "women need to get some backbone" in this area, since it's absolutely crucial you know what you have, where it is, and whose name it's in. If you're single, make personal finance a part of your life--don't ignore or avoid it in hopes that someone or something will come to your rescue.
  • Set up accounts in your own name. Make sure that assets and accounts are in your name too. Wilson also thinks it makes a lot of sense for a married woman to have a cash-equivalent emergency fund in her name only.
  • Save and invest. According to the Allianz study, financial security and freedom are 15 to 20 times more important to women than status. To attain that security and freedom, you need to save consistently and invest wisely. Though women tend to be naturally more risk-averse, various studies have concluded they often make better investors than men.
  • Stay employable. Wives and mothers often put their careers aside, which leaves them at a disadvantage if they become widowed or divorced. To make sure you can re-enter the work force if necessary, maintain your moneymaking skills or develop new ones. Consider what job you could get if you had to start earning a living tomorrow--then prepare for it. If possible, work at least part time even if you don't need the money.
  • Communicate your fears. Mellan encourages couples to communicate openly about money, and suggests something as simple and straightforward as, "Honey, I know this is irrational, but I'm gripped by this fear. Is there anything you can do to help me feel better about this?" Together, you might come up with ways to achieve some peace of mind, such as setting up a spousal IRA (individual retirement account) in your name.
  • Protect yourself. According to Wilson's article "How to Help Older Divorcing Women Avoid the Bag Lady Blues" (Journal of Financial Planning, June 12, 2006), "older divorcing women are swelling the poverty rolls because the traditional 50-50 split of household assets can leave them broke." One way to avoid poverty after divorce is to understand the family finances and what you're entitled to (in some cases, that includes 50% of his retirement funds) and get good advice before you agree to a division of assets. A life insurance policy can protect you if you are widowed.

While overcoming your anxieties is sure to benefit your bottom line, the rewards of taking charge of your own financial well-being often are more than just financial.

"When women confront their money fears and do something about them, and they become knowledgeable and in control," says Mellan, "they experience the most profound sense of serenity, confidence, and security."

Published 7-19-2012.

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