Women tend to be less confident than men when it comes to money, with a U.S. Bank study finding that 55% of women are confident in their ability to manage their finances compared to 60% of men. One way to build confidence is to find a support group that can help you learn about financial topics you lack knowledge about, act as a sounding board as you navigate complex financial decisions and challenge any limiting beliefs you have around money.
In this “Financially Savvy Female” column, we’re chatting with Vanessa N. Martinez, wealth management professional and founder of Em-Powered Network, a holistic and community-based approach to helping women with their finances. Here, she shares how women can find or build a financial support group and why these groups can be so impactful.
How can women find or create a financial support group?
First, they have to identify what they’re looking for. Is it trying to make a confirmation of what they have going on? Or are you truly in need of a mentor or help from a network that gives you those guiding tools to build a plan? I think once you’ve identified which group you truly need, then it’s time to create or find.
If you’re an extrovert, you can go and create a network through your friends and invite someone more knowledgeable in the field who gives direction. It’s really (about) learning from each other. The other side is finding a community. There are so many groups out there (that offer) complimentary calls, newsletters or blogs that you could read through. I would definitely say go through that first, because it will give you a feel of what that network is truly going to offer.
What types of support can you expect to get from these communities?
The main groups that exist are for financial literacy or financial education, where they walk you through how to build a budget, how to start investing, how to grow your money.
My sister and I are building something that’s a little more than just that. The way we grew up, and the community and environment that we’re in, gives us the sense of who we are today, what we know and what’s lacking. What I believe should exist is more of the wellness piece. What is your relationship with money? And what are the psychological barriers that are holding you back? It’s more of the how. ‘How do I do that? I know what I should do, but how?’ And I believe that these smaller groups are what help identify your personal obstacles.
Why is it so important for women to have this kind of support?
The lack of confidence that we have in larger groups is what truly keeps us silent. As women who are trying to build knowledge, we’ll be like, “I don’t understand that, but I don’t want to raise my hand. I don’t want to stand up because then I’m going to be singled out.” But in a smaller group, and in a group of supportive people that are on the same boat of wanting to help each other, that’s what I believe gives that sense of relief and will allow you to dig a little deeper.
Another (factor is that) there’s a bias that women are risk averse. The truth is that it’s more that we’re “risk aware.” We’re not scared to take steps. We just want to make sure that they’re educated decisions. And I believe that these groups help build that knowledge, which then gives us the confidence to make good decisions.
How often should women meet with a financial support group?
It depends on where you’re at. If you need a little more hand-holding, then being part of a group that is at least monthly would be great; and, if you’re a little further along, then I would say quarterly or annually. As life happens, we need to make adjustments.
GOBankingRates wants to empower women to take control of their finances. According to the latest stats, women hold $72 billion in private wealth — but fewer women than men consider themselves to be in “good” or “excellent” financial shape. Women are less likely to be investing and are more likely to have debt, and women are still being paid less than men overall. Our “Financially Savvy Female” column will explore the reasons behind these inequities and provide solutions to change them. We believe financial equality begins with financial literacy, so we’re providing tools and tips for women, by women to take control of their money and help them live a richer life.
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