Femme Palette recently co-organized a workshop on financial wellness run by Eva Hlavsova and Laureen Hollge from the online investment platform Fondee. During the workshop, many interesting insights were shared on the topics of women and finances, and how to achieve financial wellness, and so we decided to put together 5 steps shared by Fondee for improving your financial wellness.
According to researchers at Gallup, financial wellness can be defined as effectively managing your economic life. This includes, but is not limited to spending within your means, being financially prepared for emergencies, or planning for the future. However, based on research conducted by Fondee, only 16% of women proactively manage their finances. This stems from the fact that many women were simply raised not to talk about money, although they are generally in charge of the household budget and know how to manage it efficiently. On top of that, as a result of the pay gap, women generally have less opportunity to generate wealth, and are therefore paid lower pensions despite spending 6 years more in retirement on average than men.
So what can women do to improve their financial wellness? In the workshop, Eva and Laureen broke the process down into five steps.
The first step is to actually gain oversight on your finances so that you know what you’re working with. Begin by tracking your budget over the course of 3 or 4 months. How much income are you generating, and, on the contrary, how much are you spending, and what on? Once you have oversight, you can begin to optimize.
The ‘Golden rule’: 50:30:20
In order to optimize, Fondee recommends sticking to an easy budgeting method otherwise known as the 50:30:20 rule. What does this mean exactly? In short, you are dividing your after-tax income into three categories.
50% of your income goes to covering your needs. This includes necessary expenses such as living, utilities, food, transportation, and any other bills necessary for you to live your day-to-day life.
30% is designated for covering your wants. These are things which bring joy and comfort to your life such as vacations, going out, any kind of entertainment, etc.
20% should be set aside for savings and investments.
Build a financial pillow
The next step is achieving stability and reassurance by building a financial pillow to fall back on in case you need to. Fondee highlights the importance of this especially as according to their research, 80% of women don’t have savings for cases of emergencies.
What you should aim to build is what Fondee fittingly calls a ‘fuck-off fund’. This amount of savings should be substantial enough to hold you over for 3 to 6 months. Having such a reserve set aside will guarantee you freedom and safety in difficult life situations such as breaking up with your partner, leaving or losing your job, etc.
Plan your finances
Have you started saving for your pension? Whether you’re just starting out in your career, or whether retirement awaits you soon, it’s never too early, and it is, in fact, necessary. Workers globally are often surprised to find out how low their government pension is going to be. Therefore, you also need to have resources of your own to enable you to enjoy a dignified retirement. So how do you know how much you will actually need?
In the workshop, Fondee shared two methods for establishing your pension goal. The first method counts with you setting 10 to 15% of your after-tax income to your pension fund. The second method requires you to end up with a total amount of which 4% will cover a year’s expenses. Which method you choose is up to you, however, Fondee points out that the latter version is slightly better as it leads you to an amount that can cover your expenses from investment yields while ensuring that your children will also inherit something from you
An important point which was highlighted in the workshop is that saving money alone won’t protect your assets from inflation - especially at the worrying inflation rates many countries are currently facing. The fact of the matter is that inflation can be beat by making long-term investments.
According to research conducted by Fondee, women mostly don’t invest, although 52% of them believe that everyone should make investments. So why do women generally avoid investing? This is commonly down to low self-esteem when it comes to the topic of investing, which many women believe that they do not understand, or that you have to be an expert in financial markets in order to make good investment decisions.
As an investor, you can either make the decision to design and manage your own portfolio or have someone else (such as a broker) help you with portfolio management. A good broker will offer you a broad range of investment products at fees as low as possible. Fondee is an example of a platform that will help you set up your portfolio if you don’t want to do it yourself.
Fondee also shared some DOs and DON’Ts for investing beginners.
- Diversify - your assets are best protected by having a diversified portfolio. This means including different types of investment products and investing in many different companies’ stock. That way, if one of your investments doesn’t work out, you still have the others!
- Invest regularly - regular investments are the way to go, so decide on the interval which suits your needs and stick to it.
- Think long-term - even experts find it hard to predict fluctuations in financial markets, so the chances are that with any short-term decisions, you will be late to the table. Simply put, short-term investment is riskier, and doesn’t allow you to benefit from compound interest as much as you would from long-term options.
- Don’t invest what you might need soon - these kinds of assets are best kept in easily accessible places such as savings accounts.
- Investing isn’t gambling! Do your best not to fall for any “get rich quick” strategies - they’re usually very risky.
- Don’t get tricked by advisors - always have your wits about you and do your research before letting anyone manage your money.
Talk about money with your friends
Last but not least, help break the taboo surrounding money by engaging in open conversations about finances with your friends. It’s alright and healthy to talk about money, and by doing so, you are helping other women to be more confident about budgeting and investing!