At a glance
- Some women lack confidence when it comes to money and this can have a big impact on their wellbeing, preventing financial independence and hindering their ability to plan for the future.
- This lack of confidence can be due to their upbringing and emotional connections to money.
- To regain a sense of financial control, it’s a good idea to talk to friends about money, as well as discussing requirements with an independent financial adviser.
How would you describe your relationship with money, the habits that determine the ways you spend or save your cash?
Some women lavish it on family and friends, others love the rush of a bargain outfit, while a good number prefer to save it, safe in the knowledge that if disaster strikes, there’s always money in the bank.
Our decisions are fuelled by a host of emotions – guilt, fear, boredom, or simply keeping up with our social circle.
I talk to a lot of women in my work, and irrespective of household budgets managed, insurance policies purchased or savings plans contributed to, few describe themselves as financially confident. How often do you hear your own friends confess “I’m not good with money”?
But while that phrase might roll off our tongues without much thought, its impact can take a real toll on our financial and emotional wellbeing. It is preventing us from having financial independence and hindering our ability to plan for the future.
A lack of financial education is, of course, a significant cause of this crisis in confidence. Let’s face it, how many of us were taught at school about money and saving for the future? But that’s only part of the story.
As with everything else in life, many of our traits are heavily influenced by our own upbringing – and lots of us have inherited our view of money from our parents.
In the UK, women were, after all, only allowed to open their own bank accounts in 1975 after the introduction of the Sex Discrimination Act. When I was growing up, my father was always the money man in the house; I know that I have to be better with finances than my mother was, but subconsciously, we often carry on these traditions down through the generations.
Our response to money can be wrapped up in emotion, too. But for all these negative responses, financial security – rather than wealth and the accrual of money per se – can also bring about much more positive feelings of wellbeing, independence, freedom and control.
According to research from the WealthiHer Network1, men are roughly twice as likely to have high self-esteem than women; those women who did describe themselves as having high self-esteem had earned wealth through their career. Close to half (46%) also said that financial autonomy was a key driver of self-esteem.
Olga Miler, co-founder of SmartPurse, a financial education platform for women, agrees. “Our relationship with money has a huge influence on our lives, far beyond covering costs of everyday life and providing financial security,” she says. “Consciously or subconsciously, it impacts our physical wellbeing, our stress levels and our relationships. That’s why one in two women in our research report an increase in their overall confidence as a result of sorting out their financial affairs.”
“While being confident with money might not come as naturally as we might think to many people, given history, societal norms and inherited values, adopting a positive mindset and getting a grip on your money is easier than one might think. It all starts with simple things. Look at it this way: you can’t dress well if you have a big mess in your closet. Same goes for money.”
How can you improve your financial confidence?
To get this sense of control and to find more financial confidence, it’s vital that we recognise and acknowledge our current relationship with money and understand why we do the things that we do.
You can also improve your confidence by talking; park the embarrassment and start having frank and open conversations with your friends about money. What are they doing with their savings? Are they putting money into a pension? You will probably find the conversation, however uncomfortable it might initially feel, empowers and inspires you both.
Talking to an independent financial adviser can also help. Sometimes it might feel too awkward to speak to a friend. Our own research with ILC2 shows that people – irrespective of gender – felt that taking financial advice made them more confident about their finances and better prepared, with women in particular saying that it improved their financial literacy and made them feel more empowered to make informed decisions.
Many women tell us that they are too ashamed to admit that they have not made good financial plans; they want to ask lots of questions and really need to understand the pros and cons before making decisions. A good adviser will be non-judgemental and prepared to answer any question you can throw at them, creating the perfect environment for you to learn and gain confidence.
And once you’ve gained confidence, security, wellbeing and resilience won’t be far behind.
To find out more about how to boost your financial confidence, talk to Sophie.
SmartPurse is a unique money coaching and learning toolbox offering independent financial education and information for women. Through an innovative digital platform you can access training courses; self-learn modules; and join a vibrant community of women taking control of their money.
1WealthiHer Network, The Changing Faces of Women’s Wealth, 2021, total number surveyed 2239
2ILC and St. James’s Place Wealth Management, Peace of Mind: Understanding the non-financial benefits of financial advice, 2020