One of the most important ways we can take care of ourselves as women is to make financial improvement a priority. Here are three ways to do it and get ahead in the process.
1. Invest in yourself
Even if you think the word “investing” only means putting money into stocks, real estate, or other tangible money-making assets, investing in yourself is one of the best ways to maximize your financial growth as a woman. Unfortunately, thanks to the gender pay gap, we’re already in trouble. Last year, Pew Research found that for every dollar a man earned, women earned an average of just $0.82 — an amount that increased by $0.02 between 2002 and 2022.
What is the solution? Well, we need to level the playing field, and that starts with you. You can invest in yourself by adding to your work skills. Check out courses on sites like LinkedIn or try online learning platforms like Skillshare. Regardless of your field, you can be better at the bits and pieces that make up your job. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, taking in-depth courses on InDesign and Photoshop can empower you to improve your skills and increase your pay as a result.
Another important way to invest in yourself is to spend time learning how to better manage your money. Up has great personal finance resources that can teach you how to budget, stay out of debt, and more. I also recommend talking to a financial professional — it can be life changing.
2. Pay yourself first
You probably know how important it is to save money for future goals, emergencies, and investing in your future, so I won’t rehash this ground. The hard part for most people is finding money to save. If you’re not earning enough to begin with, the best way to get ahead of the curve is to increase your income (with or without a higher salary in your main job – you might even consider changing careers entirely). If you’re on solid financial ground and still struggling to send money to your savings account or IRA each month, it’s time to start paying yourself first.
what do you mean? Instead of leaving your savings or retirement account for last (the ol’ “I save whatever is left at the end of the month.” move), start withdrawing the money from your bill first. As an example, I’m a full-time freelancer, so I have to actively plan for quarterly tax payments if I want to avoid trouble with the IRS. I do that by taking a percentage off the top of each paycheck. While I’m at it, I set aside a certain amount for savings goals (more on that below). That money is all going straight into a high-income savings account, safe and growing with interest.
If all of this sounds like too much to remember, many people have found success automating their savings. You can set up automatic transfers from your checking account to other financial accounts to happen immediately after you’re paid — if the money moves automatically, you won’t forget to save, and you won’t have a chance to withdraw it.
3. Set goals for the future
My last tip for boosting your financial growth is a little more practical. That is, you need to sit down and choose some goals for yourself. Life is complex and overwhelming, and it can be very easy to get bogged down in the complexity of daily tasks and obligations. So it’s 100% important to think a little and decide what you want out of life – you know, the big picture. Want to retire early with $2 million in the bank? Want to pay for your kids’ college tuition (or your own)? Or, like me, do you dream of buying a modest home that you can turn into your own piece of paradise?
The first step in taking your dream into reality is deciding what you want. Then you can make a plan. If I can do it, so can you — I recently completed a major savings goal (in preparation for buying your little piece of heaven). Before I started saving, I ran the numbers to determine how much I needed to save, and I broke the big savings goal down into smaller weekly goals. I couldn’t have done it without taking the time to set goals and think about how I wanted my life to look. You can do the same, and then let us know what steps you’ll take to get there.
As women, if we want to become better at managing money, achieve our dreams and earn more, we have to do the work. The above methods can help.
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