5 Steps To Financial Empowerment

5 Steps To Financial Empowerment

By Amanda Fox

Men and women tend to see many things differently. Money is no exception to that rule, which is why women becoming more financially empowered has been one area of personal freedom in which more equity hasn’t been realized. Men tend to use their money to try to create more wealth and take risks in doing it. Women, on the other hand, tend to be savers. They still look to build more wealth using the money they have, but it is usually in more conservative ways where the risk is as small as possible.

 
It doesn’t have to be that way. Women can become more financially empowered by following a few steps that will possibly get them to look at financial freedom from new angles. With a fresh perspective, the right attitude and the right information, you can become more financially empowered and take greater control over your financial future.

 
1. Don’t settle for less

 

Get your worth!

It’s not as bad for women in the workforce as it was 40 years ago, or even 20 years ago for that matter, but there are still plenty of women that are settling for less than they should. It’s not only a matter of avoiding falling into the trap of thinking in terms of “pink and blue jobs”, it’s about what you get out of your job. Don’t be afraid to ask for promotions, or raises, that you have earned. Don’t sit back and assume everything will work out in time. You don’t have to be a squeaky wheel, but you do need to speak up.

 

A problem too many women report having is underemployment. They have the knowledge, ability and proper credentials for a job, but still find them self working as the assistant, clerk or similar position. It’s hard, but not impossible, to be financially empowered when you aren’t in a position to be financially compensated for the actual skills you have. Shake things up and start taking a good look at if you are getting your proper due and if not, don’t be afraid to explore other opportunities.

 

2. Don’t depend solely on others

 
Regardless of your relationship status; married, living together, partners or whatever may apply to you, keep a separate bank account that is just yours. This in no way means you don’t still maintain a joint account if you prefer them, nor does it imply you make your personal account some sort of secret. We don’t like talking defeatist, but many relationships do end. Divorce is not uncommon. Having a little buffer that you control can make life much easier if the worst ever occurs and provide peace of mind. Remember – being prepared for the worst isn’t somehow planning for the worst – it’s just being smart.

 
3. Establish and maintain good credit

 
Similar to having a bank account of your own, build credit of your own. This is another peace of mind safety net and it is also the sensible thing to do. Should a relationship end, having good credit will come in handy for a number of reasons. Even in a healthy relationship, what happens if your spouse’s credit gets trashed after a layoff or some unforeseen emergency that drains your money and rocks your financial stability? If you also have good credit, you can help bridge the gap and get through those difficult times easier.

 
4. Budget – and stick to it!

 
Making a budget is actually fairly easy. Living by a budget can be harder than solving a Rubik’s cube drunk on moonshine while riding a merry-go-round. The biggest stumbling block people have when making a budget is they create an unrealistic budget. They forget to leave a little extra money in for those moments when impulse buys strike. You need to budget in a little mad money – you heard that right!

 

When unrealistic budgets are created, it is either very hard or impossible to live by them. Don’t assume you can change all your spending habits at once. Give yourself time to settle into a new routine. Most people that go off budgets long term cite that they did so after failing to meet their budget 3 months or more in a row. Hence, it is better to be a realistic, leave yourself wiggle room, then progressively tighten it up as you become more accustomed to new spending habits.

 
5. Take care of #1

 

This is not a retirement plan vehicle!

In business, this would be called “pay yourself first”, but the principle is the same – except this is about building your savings. Each time you get paid, set a percentage of your check that you will bank in a separate savings account. Ideally, you want to aim for 10%, but if that isn’t possible, set a more realistic number and increase it as you can. The reason behind putting money in a savings account is that in case their is an emergency and you need quick access to cash, you do have it. By the end of your first six months, you should have a decent cushion and begin funneling your savings into a retirement account. It is never too early to plan for the future.

 
If you can follow these steps, you are well on your way to making yourself financially secure and empowered. The goal is to take charge of your financial health. Be your own safety net, don’t depend on the hope that someone else will bail you out. Don’t be afraid, especially when you’re young, to take a little more informed risk when investing. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. A cornerstone of being empowered is having confidence and intelligence enough to know when you need a hand and not be afraid to ask for it.

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