For women: Take control of your financial future

Don't let investing get lost in the shuffle. Help ensure that your money works hard too.

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Many women are also balancing several priorities—career, family, friends, and other obligations. Often, investing gets lost in the shuffle, meaning women may not be ensuring that the money they’ve worked so hard to earn is working hard for them. Our research found that only 4% spearhead their family’s investment strategy.1 Among affluent women, 80% consider themselves “beginner investors,” compared with 50% of men.

One would think it might be different for younger women. It’s not. Only one in eight Gen Y women (born 1978–1988) call themselves the primary decision maker when it comes to personal finance. And only 9% are confident about managing investments.1

And yet 90% of women will have to manage their finances on their own at some point in their life.2 They may leave the workforce to care for a sick family member, become divorced, or find themselves widowed.

So how can women take control of their financial future?

Kathy Murphy, president of Fidelity’s Personal Investing, who has been named one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in American business by Fortune magazine for several years running, shared the following five tips at a Fidelity event on empowering women. Feel free to share them with women you care about—your mother, daughter, sister, and friends. (We also asked some other busy women to share how they take charge of their finances.)

1. Believe that you can.

Says Murphy, “Attitude is everything. That’s a sign I have in my Boston office, and it certainly applies here. The fundamentals of investing can seem intimidating, but it's not hard. It just requires some effort to learn the fundamentals. It’s all about setting goals, creating a long-term plan, and sticking to that plan. These are things women are especially good at.”

2. Talk to family and loved ones.

“Money should not be a taboo subject,” notes Murphy. “If you’re married or in a relationship, don’t defer all financial matters to your partner. You don’t need to be equally engaged day to day if you don’t want to be, but you should have regular conversations—annually at the bare minimum—and establish a core understanding of your savings, investments, and goals.”

3. Do your homework.

“Here again, women are good at this,” says Murphy “Access the resources around you to set your long-term goals, invest your money against those goals, and watch it develop over time. Once you’re educated and involved in your investment plan, don’t let daily fluctuations in the market rattle you. If your instincts tell you to get more help and information, do so. Work with one of our financial professionals or use our online tools to understand the investments you own or that you need to add to your portfolio. These are free resources.”

4. Don’t delay.

“If you start at age 25 and save $50 more per month in an IRA or 401(k) until you are 67, you could receive approximately $390 in additional pretax retirement income a month in retirement,”3 explains Murphy. “Waiting until you are 35 reduces that additional monthly income almost by half. Really, it’s a simple formula—the earlier you start investing, the better off and more confident you’ll be. Put that hard-earned money to work for you.”

5. Make it a priority.

Murphy concludes, “By ‘it,’ I mean ‘you.’ Women work hard for their families, for their advancement, their progress; they work hard to live the life of their dreams. Make it happen. See it through. Take control of your dreams by taking control of your finances. You deserve it!”

Learn more

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Keep in mind that investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate over time and you may gain or lose money.
The views and opinions of the women expressed herein are their own as of the date of the recording, and do not necessarily represent the views of Fidelity Investments.
1. Fidelity Investments, “Couples Retirement Study,” 2013.
2. “Women in the Labor Force: A Databook,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012.
3. The hypothetical example assumes that the individual saves until retirement age 67, lives to age 93, and receives a 1.5% real (inflation-adjusted) increase in wages per year. Rate of returns are nominal 7%, consisting of 4.7% real and 2.3% inflation. Initial salary at age 25 is assumed to be $40,000. The example assumes that deferral percentage rates stay constant throughout participants’ working careers. Estimated increases in retirement monthly income are in constant 2013 dollars. It is assumed that upon retirement, the same real (inflation-adjusted) dollar amount is withdrawn annually to age 93. Assumes the participant took no loans or hardship withdrawals from his or her workplace plan. All dollars shown are pretax dollars. Upon distribution, applicable federal and state taxes are due. No federal, state, or local taxes; inflation; or any account fees or expenses were considered. If they had been, returns and monthly increase would be lower.
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