Throughout my professional life I’ve always been a connector, the person who helps people move from feeling uncomfortable and alone to a more stable footing.
It started with military families early in my career and continued later, when I directed children’s ministries at the national level.
Today, through my work in the financial services field, I find that there is a dire need to connect women with resources that educate and empower them.
I am often struck by how many older women, many in their 70s, have no idea what’s going on with their finances.
When a husband passes away, for example, the woman left behind can feel helpless. She frequently has no idea of what investments or debts she has and may know almost nothing at all about her financial situation.
I understand the unease that surrounds personal finance for many women. One reason I feel sympathetic toward women in these situations is that they remind me of my own mother.
My mother has no idea what she pays in investment fees. If something were to happen to my mother’s finances, she would call my husband.
She knows which brokerage has her money. Other than that, she hasn’t a clue.
I get how this happens. As we age, it gets harder to talk about money and investing, especially if the reality of your financial situation isn’t as rosy as you or your partner may believe. Money can be a downright uncomfortable topic.
For many women, feeling ignorant about their finances is an unpleasant fact. Many older generation women worked when they were young but after having kids never returned to paid work. They did a lot of volunteering, sure, but money and investing was never on the radar.
From dark to light
Fortunately, most women of my generation have longer work histories and tend to be on top of things. They know about life insurance and have the basics of their finances figured out.
Yet there are still so many intelligent women who don’t know enough about money and investing.
I feel fortunate to be in a position to help them. Helping is what I tell people I do as director of client satisfaction for Rebalance. When I speak with with a client that one of my colleagues or I really helped — who were in a dark place and then saw the light — it’s a tremendous joy to me.
Not long ago I read The Elements of Investing by Burt Malkiel and Charley Ellis, two members of the Rebalance Investment Committee.
That simple book really changed my own perspective. As the mother of two college-aged girls, the feeling of financial empowerment from my own effort was a revelation.
I’m happy to report that after my older daughter read the book at my insistence and soon began saving money for the first time in her life. She’s 23, out of college and works for a non-profit.
That’s how we as women really turn around our relationship with money, by educating ourselves and taking responsibility for what we should know.
Every little opportunity I get to further that mission is rewarding.