Financial expert Lynnette Khalfani-Cox (aka "The Money Coach") offers information that focuses on mistakes women make with their money.
MISTAKE: LOANING MONEY TO THEIR FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Mixing finances with family and friends is rarely a good thing. There's too much risk of something going wrong. What if the person you borrowed doesn't repay on time? What if the person starts to constantly come to you asking for "loans" and financial help? You don't want to become someone's human ATM machine. Even worse, women tend to give until it hurts. So we'll loan money to others even though we have credit card debt or no savings. The money you loan to family could be best used for fixing your own financial problems.
The best solution is to just say NO! Politely decline requests for money. Even if a family member asks you, say you don't like to loan cash because you don't want to risk straining the relationship. If you ARE in a position to spare extra cash, make sure your financial help is a "gift" rather than a loan. Only offer what you can comfortably give. Don't put yourself in the hole to help someone else out of theirs. That's just not money savvy. And you'll probably regret it later.
MISTAKE: MERGING FINANCES WITH YOUR PARTNER TOO SOON
The problem is that too many women merge finances far too soon, too early into the relationship and in ways that are not healthy. For example, if you have joint checking or savings accounts, it's a good idea to also have a separate account -- just so you learn how to manage finances on your own. Also, some women get joint credit accounts before they're even married. Or they cosign mortgages, car notes, and credit card accounts for people they know are financially irresponsible. Both situations are very risky because you're jeopardizing your own credit, which is hugely important. Even if your spouse is good at money managing, if all you have are joint credit card accounts, that's a problem if you get a divorce. In many cases, divorced women -- especially stay-at-home-moms, women in school full-time, and others who don't work -- won't be able to get credit on their own.
It's important to maintain some independence. Have a conversation with your spouse or significant other and let them know that you'd like to have some financial independence. It doesn't mean that you don't love them or don't trust them. It simply means you want to be smarter with managing your finances. Admittedly, this can be a tricky, sometimes tough conversation. But it's crucial to do it and get it right.
MISTAKE: GIVING TOTAL FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY TO MEN
Women are good with household budgets and balancing the family checkbook, but when it comes to the investments and saving for retirement, women often consider that too complicated. That's why we'll say things like "Oh, my husband handles all the investing stuff." Or we'll rely completely on a guy's advice: He could be a friend, your brother, uncle, daddy, or even your sugar daddy! We go to them thinking they know more about money than we do. Obviously that's not always the case. The problem is that many women lack knowledge and lack confidence.
In fact, in a recent survey, most women admitted that they really don't know a lot about stocks and bonds, or products like mutual funds and annuities. Consequently, only 20% of women surveyed said that they're well-prepared to make wise financial choices for the future. But nearly half of all men felt confident planning for the future.
There's no shame in admitting that you don't know something. It is a shame, though, if you do nothing about it. So just educate yourself. Read a money-management book or an article in a financial magazine. Listen to business news shows on TV or the radio. Take a class. You can do this! Money management isn't rocket science.
MISTAKE: AVOIDING THE FINANCIAL FUTURE
Studies show that seven out of ten people in this country, including the majority of women, don't have a last will and testament. Also, most Americans are terribly underinsured or have no life insurance whatsoever. Many times, women can afford these things. We've just been putting it off because we're too busy, or we don't want to think about the future. But that's a big financial mistake.
One of the best ways to solve this is make a checklist. As women, we're good with making to-do lists and tackling tasks one at a time. So make a checklist of things you know you need, give yourself a deadline of no more than 30 days, and just get it done. No excuses. No procrastination. Besides, it feels really good to check things off your to-do list, and you'll sleep so much better knowing you did the right thing to help secure your family's future.
MISTAKE: TAKING FINANCIAL ADVICE FROM GIRLFRIENDS
While some women rely on guys for advice, some of us only go to our girlfriends for tips and suggestions on how to handle money matters. Only one in three women has a financial adviser. Instead, we'd often rather just let our girlfriends chime in and offer us recommendations on how to save, spend, invest or donate money. And some of us mistakenly think getting professional financial help will be "too expensive." Even though your girlfriends love you and likely have your best interests at heart, chances are they're not Certified Financial Planners or licensed money managers.
Women need to seek out the help of financial planners. If you had severe chest pain, you'd go to a doctor and get it checked out. Right? Because you're physical health is very important. So is your financial health. And just like a doctor is best suited to give you a medical diagnosis, a qualified, trustworthy financial expert is best suited to help you overcome money problems and reach your financial goals.