How to be a Financially Successful Woman – Don’t wait around for Prince Charming to take care of finances. Be an independent, financially savvy woman!
Back when I was growing up, I had a very specific plan for my life: I’d marry rich and he’d take care of all of the money and I’d never have to worry about any of it. The end.
Even typing that out, I feel silly! But it’s true. That’s how I used to feel about finances. Money was always “man’s work” and spending it was always “women’s work.”
But the way that the world is isn’t exactly making that reasonable or even feasible.
More and more women are the head of their household and aren’t married or sharing financial responsibilities with anyone else. Even more, with the divorce rate being so high, it’s likely that even if a woman were taken care of by her husband, she still has roughly a 50% chance of needing to take financial control again some day.
In a world where women have never had more rights in our country, it’s so important that we can all learn how to be financially successful women. No, this won’t include tips on how to seduce a rich old guy to marry you without a prenup. And no, you won’t find the words “throw all of your money all of the time into lottery tickets because how else would you make $1 million?
10 real, practical tips to become an independent, financially successful woman.
1. Learn how to track your money.
The first thing to know to be a financially successful woman is to know how to keep track of your money. This will mean that you need to know where you keep your money and how to access your bank statements.
An app like Mint or EveryDollar will help you to know exactly where your money is going each month. Many banks have mobile apps that are amazing (if your bank doesn’t have one, it might be time to look into a new bank).
Being able to keep a close, intimate eye on your finances will help you know where you are struggling with spending as well as if your account information is being stolen.
Related Resource: Real Life Money Plan
2. Learn how to invest and build a retirement fund (separate from your husband).
Many employers have a 401(k) retirement savings plan for their employees. But many married women only have a retirement plan for their husband. What if you get divorced? You will likely wind up without any money to retire.
It’s important to know how to build a retirement savings account. I personally use Betterment for my long term investing. I deposit money each week into an account and will continue to do so over the years. This way, I will be building my own retirement account into the future.
3. Know how to open and close bank accounts.
Maybe this sounds silly to you, but I’m still shocked by how many women I talk to who genuinely don’t know how to open a checking account. So here’s how it works.
Find the bank that you want to use (check out the list of banks that will give you free cash for opening an account with them), and remember to check out their mobile app. Take some money with you, as many banks have an initial minimum deposit amount (usually $25-100). Bring your driver’s license and social security card. And tada! you’re all set!
Closing a bank account is similar. You need to prove that you’re the person on the account first with a driver’s license and social security card (maybe). They will ask you why you’re closing the bank (you could tell them it’s none of their business, but usually a short answer will do), and then they’ll give you your balance in the form of a check. And you’re on your way!
It might seem scary to start a bank account by yourself, but you have nothing at all to worry about. You can do it!
Related post: What Do You Do When There’s No Money For the Bills
4. Know how to build savings.
Along with having no idea about where their money is going, many women don’t know how to build a savings account or how to have a long-term savings plan in place. Especially in you are going to be a financially successful woman, you will need to know how to save up for something that you want or need.
You can easily set up automatic withdrawal at your bank to move money each week into a savings account for you. Even if it’s just $25 each week, that will add up! My secret weapon to building a savings account is
My secret weapon to building a savings account is Digit. You’ll be saving money every day without even noticing it. Digit moves money from your checking account that isn’t being used (even if it’s just a few cents at a time) into a savings account for you. It’s easy and painless.
Related post: Save Money Automatically: An Honest Review of Digit
5. Learn how to handle your own taxes.
I missed my calling in life to be an accountant. I’ve been doing my own taxes since I was 18 (back when my yearly income of $12,000 seemed like such a big number).
But not everyone is like that! Taxes always have this very negative and scary vibe, but in reality, they’re really not tough. The free tax websites out there are amazing and have really taken the scariness out of taxes.
I mean this when I say that all you need to do is enter the numbers in the boxes that they tell you. It’s really that easy.
Being in control of your taxes and finances also means being able to keep detailed records of your spending. Everything that you bought for work (clothes, lunches, supplies, etc.) can all get written off at tax time. You will need to save these receipts for your records when it comes time to file your taxes. (This will also help you when it comes to my next point, as well.)
Being a financially successful woman means that you know that you don’t need to pay someone else hundreds of dollars to do your taxes. You take care of your own money and know that you can handle anything when it comes to money… including taxes.
6. Learn the insurances that you should have and how to get them.
You probably already know about needing car insurance and health insurance. But do you have renter’s insurance? Or personal property insurance?
If you have a closet with anything from a designer, a jewelry box with items worth more than $100, any musical instruments, and a laptop, TV, Xbox, smartphone, iPad or any other expensive electronics, you should have personal property insurance.
If someone breaks into your house and steals everything or you lose a diamond ring (or a few of them… *cough cough*… speaking from experience…), personal property insurance will reimburse you the full cost that you paid for the items if you have a receipt. So remember to keep very good records of purchases!
7. Learn about your credit score and how to get out of debt.
I know this isn’t a fun one. But part of being a financially successful woman is knowing how to handle debt.
First, let me just be a little elementary for a second. I recently had to explain to a friend that you actually needed to pay it back when you buy something with a credit card. She genuinely had no idea and looked at me like I had 5 heads. So, just in case you didn’t know, every time you swipe a credit card, you will need to pay the bill. If you did know that, then you’re on the right track.
There’s no real fun way to talk about debt or to get out of debt quickly without winning the lottery (side note: don’t bother wasting money on lottery tickets). But the bottom line is that if you have mountains of debt or have a credit card in collections or have 100 credit cards, you will be severely limited in your options in life.
You might not even be able to qualify for a car loan or to rent an apartment if your credit score is in the toilet. You can check your credit score once every year for free. This might be a shock to you, but know that there are steps that you can take to get out of debt and get your credit score to go up.
A big takeaway from this is that in order to be a financially successful woman, you really need to take control of the debts in your life and make sure that they don’t end up hurting your financial future.
8. Learn the best ways to shop (and know when not to shop).
I don’t think I’ve ever met a woman who hates shopping. But it’s also important to not make shopping into an obsession or a problem. A financially successful woman knows that shopping can be fun, but will always shop with her head and not her need for something shiny.
There are good and bad ways to shop. Paying retail price for anything or buying something that isn’t on sale should be avoided. Downloading Ebates, shopping thrift, consignment, second hand, or from sites like eBay and ThredUp (which, by the way, is my new favorite thing ever – check out my Thredup review from a cheapskate’s perspective!) should only be done when you truly need something.
If you are a shop-a-holic with the ability to spend $1,000 every time you walk into a mall, it’s time for a change. Shopping can become an addiction. It does to your wallet what drugs do to your body. If left untreated, it can destroy everything you’ve worked to create.
If you shop for a form of therapy or just for fun you spend money at Sephora even though your makeup bag is bursting at the seams, it’s time for a break. And I’m not saying that to be a killjoy! I’m saying that because I want you to be a financially successful woman. And if you’re a slave to your need to shop and spend money, you won’t be able to be financially successful (at least, not until you have the rest of your financial life in order).
Related Resource: Get a free $10 gift card when you sign up here for Ebates.
9. Know how to apply for loans and mortgages.
I know, I just said how important it was to stay out of debt. But some of us need a car in a shorter period of time than we can save $5,000-10,000. And, unless you have a very generous relative give you a house, you’ll eventually need to know how to apply for a mortgage.
My favorite resource to tell people is to go see if they can apply for a USAA membership. They’re my one-stop-shop for everything. Banks, mortgages, car loans, savings accounts, retirement funds, investments and more. The only caveat is that you need to have a living relative who has served in the military. My Grandfather is how we got our membership and I’m never leaving!
Back to loans and mortgages. In order to apply for a loan and a mortgage, you’ll need your social security number, a recent paystub, and what your budget will be (you’ll need about a million other things when you actually apply for the mortgage, but for the prequalification, that’s all you need). Usually, they will show you an estimate of your monthly payment for your budget. If you think it’s a reasonable amount, then you’ll be able to finish an application.
There are a lot more ins and outs when it comes to applying for a loan, but really just make sure that it’s something that will benefit you while you pay it off.
Related resource: Learn more about a USAA membership.
10. Know that you can be financially independent (and how to stay that way).
This mindset is what sets financially successful women apart from everyone else. They know that they can take charge of their finances and lives. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist or a millionaire to take control of your finances. All you need to do is know that you can and then take the steps to make it happen.
I’m not man-bashing or saying that you’ll get divorced, but depending on a man isn’t a real financial plan. I’ve heard so many people say that they have awful debt and credit, but it’s ok because they’ll just use their boyfriend/ husband/ partner’s information for a loan. This isn’t a financial plan. Like Stefanie O’Connell said, a man is not a financial plan.
BONUS: 11. Make your own money!
(This is one that I debated about adding for a long time. But I decided that I feel like I needed to.)
Even if you are a housewife, find some way to bring in some income and keep your skills sharp. Photography, graphic design, painting, teaching, tutoring, baking, blogging (*wink wink* it’s the best), anything that will bring in even just a little bit of money.
This is not to be sheisty or to undermine your husband or partner. You should make your own money so that you can stay mentally sharp and tuned into the ways of the world.
Why am I telling you this, especially if your husband is the primary breadwinner? Cliff notes story time. My mom was once the primary breadwinner in our home. She was a very successful graphic designer and traveled the world making tons of money doing what she loved. Once she and my dad decided to have kids, she decided to stay home with my brother and me (which she still says she wouldn’t trade for the world).
When my parents got divorced, my mom needed to find a job. But so much had changed in the world of graphics since the 90s and the late 2000s that she couldn’t keep up. She still hasn’t been able to find steady work due, in large part, to the fact that she never stayed on top of technology and growth in her industry.
It stands to reason that as a financially successful woman, you should have an income for yourself. but, being a mom of 3 and a homemaker, I know that is a full-time job on its own. That’s why I’m such a big fan of side hustles.
Even if it’s just an hour or 2 each week, and even if your family doesn’t need the money, do something that keeps your skills fresh and helps you to stay on top of what is happening in the world. Plus, never overlook the positivity of a creative outlet in your life!
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This isn’t detracting from marriage or relationships. Just noting that if one party in a relationship has no real grasp on finances, it’s very easy to become a drain on your family’s money. The second most common reason for divorce is money trouble.
Make the decision to get your money under control. Take charge of your own finances and be a financially successful woman.
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