How To Find The Best Financial Advice For Women

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Women are making big strides in financial independence and knowledge, though a survey released today suggests that they are hungry for more. MainStreet is here to help, with results from the survey and some tips on how women can become even more money-savvy.

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Over half of the women in the "Women, Money and Power" study, performed by Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, said they would like to both learn more about retirement (54%) and investing (53%). Single women with children were especially interested (68%) in learning more about saving for retirement.

Allianz surveyed almost 1,500 women, as well as 21 focus groups, of women ages 25 to 75 who earn over $30,000 a year.

One area of concern: the survey found that almost half of women (44%) found financial planning information “overwhelming.”

Part of the problem might be the information itself. Many Web sites about personal finance do not necessarily have women in mind, says Tiffany Bass Bukow, founder of MsMoney.com (www.msmoney.com), a financial planning site for women.

"You can create the best personal finance site out there for women, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to change their core belief, that this study also supports, that ‘financial planning is too difficult and overwhelming for me,’” she says. “It’s very difficult to get women to take that first step."

But Eve Kaplan, a financial planner in New Jersey said lack of understanding of financial information isn’t necessarily a problem if a woman has the guidance of a good financial planner.

And though some may feel overwhelmed, women are continuing to make strides. Penelope Trunk, blogger for Brazen Careerist, believes the Allianz study lacks broader context, because she sees women as doing better than ever career-wise.

For example, The New York Times (NYT) reported in 2007 that in New York City and Dallas, women between the ages of 21 and 30 earn 117% and 120% of men’s wages, respectively. (However, the article also reported that nationwide, women working full-time earn 89% of what men do.)

Indeed, the Allianz study is only one study. Evidence shows that, in general, women are doing things right, getting rich and empowering themselves financially.

Here are some resources and tips to inspire you:

Almost half of all working women save for retirement.
Of the 61 million women ages 21 to 65 in the American work force, 46% put money in a retirement plan, says the US Department of Labor. (Of course, one can read this statistic as either good news -- almost half are saving! -- or bad news -- almost half aren’t!).

For retirement-savings advice: Marcia Brixey, author of The Money Therapist, recommends WiserWomen the Web site of the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement. The site also provides extensive information on divorce and widowhood, which experts agree shocks many otherwise financially-secure women, as well as caregiving, which often falls to the daughters in a family.

Women investors may invest differently than men – and it could pay off.
In 1999, UC Davis researchers Terry Odean and Brad Barber studied the investment behavior of men versus women. They found that in general, men traded 45% more actively than women, and single men traded 67% percent more actively than single women. When it came time to run the numbers on the buy-and-hold, women in general underperformed 1%, men in general underperformed by 1.4% and single men by 2%. That means the women did the best!

For tips on investing: For introductory advice on investing, Brixey recommends www.wife.org, which provides a lot of information on investments, as well as several financial calculators. (They also sell a cute “A Man Is Not a Financial Plan” bumper sticker!) Brixey also recommends the help of a good financial planner. “You need to step outside your comfort zone and meet with someone,” she says. “Find someone who will be willing to work with you, talk with you, educate you and mentor you,”

Women are the boss more than ever.
Fortune magazine reports that in both 2008 and 2007, women ran 12 Fortune 500 companies; in 2006, they ran 10. Women are running smaller businesses, too. On a smaller scale, the Office of Economic Research Small Business Administration found in 2002 that women owned almost 30% of non-farm companies.

For inspiration on being your own boss: Bukow says she loves CNBC’s The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, (GE) which she says has lots of women guests who’ve started their own businesses who can be inspiring role models for women.

"When you watch the show, you’re, like, 'wow, that woman was like me, she was a mom of two kids, she was trying to make ends meet and then she decided to make this bedskirt cover and $25 million dollars later'…," she says. Groups like Ladies Who Launch offer social networks, as well as tools and templates, for entrepreneurial women.

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