Women in America hold less than one-third the wealth of men. Motherhood and race further complicate women’s lifetime wealth earning potential.
In this season of Money Talks, Reckon explores wealth — who has it and how to grow it.
Reckon asked members of the Reckon Women Facebook group to share what they wished they knew about money and wealth when they were younger.
The ladies delivered with more than 100 comments on the post.
They addressed topics ranging from marriage and having children to saving, investing and wise spending. Most of the women said they would have saved more, whether that meant spending less on unnecessary purchases or investing earlier.
Join our Reckon Women BeBETTER live virtual event Oct.1 with The Wealth Edit confounders to hear about how their own life experiences inspired them to help other women navigate unexpected, complicated money situations.
Here’s a sampling of the conversation from Reckon Women:
On career choices and pay
Although the gender wage gap is narrowing, it persists. Currently, women are paid an average of 82 cents for every dollar men are paid. Research also shows women are reluctant to apply positions with higher earning potential.
The Reckon Women Facebook group members said they would tell their younger selves to ask for bigger raises and negotiate their salaries, even while early in their careers.
“I would say you need to take charge of your own financial future. My sister has a friend who let her ex do all the bills and investing. Bad idea. I would also say that the career you pick will have a big impact on where you end up. I’m an engineer. I make good money, more than a good number of my male counterparts,” said Karen Smith.
“Ask for a bigger raise. Toot your own horn, and point out your achievements. Bosses are unlikely to be upset by that, and any major company will expect you to do so, and respect you more for it,” said Marion Gropen.
On buying and maintaining a home
Another way to save some change: learn how to do basic repairs around the house. (You don’t need a man to do home repairs, ladies. But, please, hire someone if the repair is outside of your skillset. Just use common sense.)
“Learn how to do some basic home maintenance/diagnostics, like navigating the breaker box, turning off water taps, checking the toilet tank chain. You might be able to save yourself a service charge or at least better understand what the professional repair person is doing. Same goes for cars,” said Marliese Thomas.
“Don’t fall in love with your home. It’s an investment. Treat it as one. When it’s time to sell, move most of your beloved pieces out, paint and polish. Change some of the cheaper hardware to update it. Decorate it to look like the furniture catalogs that your target buyers are most likely to look at. It should look like no one has ever lived there, like their aspirations, not their reality. And NEVER like your home,” said Marion Gropen.
On saving, spending and investing
The women who responded on Facebook also had advice about avoiding frivolous spending and saving money, particularly before starting a family.
“Hmmmm, Dottie you don’t need a new outfit for every Saturday night to go to the club. Don’t get the Jheri Curl, it’s not gonna last. Buying all those puka shell necklaces are going to be a waste of good money,” said Dorothy Weaver.
“Don’t buy dumb, unnecessary stuff. ‘Oh, it’s only $5,’ has probably cost me a good $20k at this point in my life,” said Sharla Horton.
“Start investing, especially with a Roth (IRA), as soon as you have a job, even in high school or college [I wish I had done this]. If your income eventually exceeds the limits for Roth IRA contributions, that money will still have so much more time to grow,” said Amanda Willig.
“10/10/10…10 (percent) to charity/church, 10 to invest, 10 to savings. (Learned from the Oprah show) Which I did, but I still should have lived below my means a little more!” said Linda R. White.
“Enroll in your 401(k) or other pension plan as soon as one is offered. I know it seems like you can’t, but find a way. Don’t use that money for anything, other than wealth-generation,” said Marion Gropen.
“Don’t get credit cards! Or if you do, always pay off in full,” said Mary Ann Janas-Smith.
“Save, save, save…take classes on investing in your future. And if you ever decide to take the Mommy track be sure to have savings to help you through. You never know what the future may hold, and re-entering the workforce isn’t that easy,” said Elizabethe Bogart Osborne.
“If you decide to have children and are not the primary breadwinner, still have a term life insurance policy on yourself to cover childcare and homecare expenses if something happens to you,” said Amanda Willig.
Want to join conversations like this one? Join the Reckon Women Facebook group! While you’re at it, subscribe to the Reckon Women newsletter. It’ll come to your inbox every Thursday.