Good news! We are getting close to half of our states here in the US that will begin to require a personal finance course in order to graduate from high school. Yeah! At the same time, I’m also wondering why we haven’t done this long ago?
Who can you or do you talk with about money or financial decisions? Probably your significant other, if you have one. But if you don’t, then who? Most of us never had formal financial education training in school. So it’s no surprise then that we are uncomfortable or feel less than knowledgeable about personal finance.
I often hear from women that it’s a subject that can be difficult or inappropriate to talk with friends about. And depending on our age and circumstance, our adult children might not be the right answer either, at least not yet.
Unless you have a financial advisor, you may not feel like you have found the right person to act as a sounding board, a resource for checking facts, and someone to talk with about making some financial decisions. I know this is the main reason that I have stayed in the financial services industry… to be a financial advocate for women.
I remember after working in a bank and then an accounting firm, I was sharing my frustration with the industry with my dad. I had well over 10 years of experience at the time, and he encouraged me to hang in there and not give up.
Living through “goals” handed down by employers that I knew were not in alignment with what I was seeing clients actually needed was getting more and more difficult to swallow. Plus, it was a good ‘ole boys world, so my approach to helping clients was very different than most men.
But in talking with my father, I realized I felt obligated but also very passionate about using my experience, my organizational skills, and my heart for education to stick with it and be the resource for women that I saw sorely lacking. Then and now I feel like a financial translator, on a mission to improve women’s financial health.
How do you feel about your financial wellness? April of each year is a great time to revisit this topic since it’s one of the national themes: Financial Literacy Awareness Month. I prefer the term financial wellness because that implies a more broad and preventive approach.
Afterall, the more we prepare in our financial life, the less we have to repair later. No different than our health. The better we take care of ourselves now, the less likely we are to deal with poor health later.
I started out as a Registered Dietitian many moons ago. I believed and still do in wellness as a preventive approach to enjoying good health instead of the typical band aid approach our health care system is currently based on. So I helped people balance their diet and exercise for a healthier life.
Ironically, now I help people balance their finances instead, which is also for a healthier life. It is all tied together. The more we take care of our body, the healthier we are, which costs less so we are less likely to need to worry about running out of money (which is one of our fears in life).
As women, we have so much to offer the world. Whether it’s in a profession, our family, our community, or even bigger and more globally than that. Our minds are so capable of right and left brain thinking and seeing the big picture, that we are well suited for making an impact in many ways.
If we can just get the “money monkey” off our backs in order to focus on whatever it is that you are good at or passionate about, the more we can live what you value. I encourage you to use this April theme of Financial Literacy Awareness Month as almost a separate New Year’s Resolution time but just related to money and your personal finances.
Any time we want to make a resolution to change, we are more successful if we break it down into small steps. So identify a step you feel is important to you right now; this quiz might help you narrow it down. Then pick the best format for you to take action.
We are all different learners and doers. Maybe you prefer to read, or watch a video, or attend a workshop, or use a checklist, or listen to a podcast. My website offers all of those, or check out The Financial Awareness Foundation for great personal finance resources or search online for the topic/format you are looking for and you are sure to find lots of options.
I think of resources as catalysts for change. But the only real catalyst is you. Make this a priority in your life, so you can enjoy more calm and peace in your financial life which will give you more energy to focus on what you really love. Who doesn’t want less worry, more life!?
What resources have you found helpful in your money life? What more can we be doing to support women on their financial journey?
I was fortunate to have taken advanced math all through high school, when we could choose any courses we liked. Therefore, I was able to complete my taxes, understand the best options for mortgages, understand how to stay out of debt, and balance a budget. However, I missed out on the magic of compound interest during that magical time in the eighties when wise investing could have set up me up for life. I hadn’t been taught anything about this since I didn’t take business courses. I believe all students should be taught the basics of this, as well as being prepared for other important life skills as young adults.
Lori, you are so right about the magic of compound interest. Let’s hope more states jump on this bandwagon to require personal finance in high school (and ideally secondary school as well since it is a crucial life skill like you said)!
I am separated and he is doing our taxes this year. We always seem to owe money , even though we’re both retired.
Next year I will be filing separately. I want a financial advisor to let me know what I need to do this year so I don’t have to pay a small fortune. I just don’t have the money to pay someone right now. I’ll have to find out how that works and if there are alternative ways to get financial advice.
@Stephanie..you might look for a financial adviser at your bank. My bank offers that service for free.
You may be able to get tax help through a free service offered by AARP at Free Tax Preparation from AARP Foundation Tax-Aide
Check with your local library too. They may have someone come in just before tax time to offer help.