By Kimberly Bridges, BOK Financial Director of Financial Planning

When it comes to financial empowerment, knowledge is power. An informed approach to money and finances lays the groundwork for a financially secure future. I am on a mission to educate women on financial matters, helping them make informed decisions and build their financial security while taking charge of their financial future.

I began my career in the military. Then—as many military spouses do—left the workforce to follow my spouse’s military career and raise our children. There weren’t a lot of options back then for military spouses. We didn’t have the internet or remote work capabilities. We decided early on that I would wait until he left the military to pursue my career.

It was while I was preparing to re-enter the workforce that I learned the true financial impact of those early decisions. I took a personal finance class to fulfil a general education requirement. It was a true awakening for me. I learned a variety of financial concepts and wondered “Why wasn’t I taught this in high school?” From understanding the basics of credit and interest, to the long-term impact of compound interest and investing, I wished I had learned these concepts when I was younger.

Soon after, I went from being a military spouse and homemaker to pursuing a master’s degree, followed by a doctorate in personal financial planning.

While in graduate school, my research focused on women’s financial outcomes, particularly related to their investments in human capital and the economic consequences of divorce. Several women around me were experiencing challenges—disability, job loss, and even death of a spouse, as well as divorce. I saw these challenges through a new lens and realized what a vulnerable position I was in.

Women face many threats to their financial security, including divorce, caregiving, and the risk of outliving their assets due to longevity and inadequate retirement savings. On average, women’s retirement plan balances are lower than men’s – due partly to lower earnings and lower labor force participation. And those balances need to be stretched further due to women’s longer life expectancies.

With all these hurdles to their financial security, it is important for women to step into the driver’s seat and steer themselves toward a financially secure future. The first step is to increase your awareness and understanding of financial concepts. You want to be in a position to make informed decisions—to understand the potential consequences of your choices—such as leaving the workforce to care for family members.

We are often encouraged to make decisions based on the immediate impact on our finances—such as the difference in our monthly income, expenses, and taxes—which doesn’t factor in the long-term implications. I recommend engaging with an advisor to create a holistic financial plan that will reveal both the short-term and long-term impact of your financial decisions. It’s never too late.

I also strongly encourage women to get involved, and staying involved, in every aspect of your household finances. I have heard too many heart-breaking stories of women who found out the hard way that their spouses were not looking out for them. I’m a firm believer in setting yourself on a course to financial independence by becoming educated about financial matters, working with a trusted professional, and making informed decisions along the way.

Find out how to get started with a checklist.


BOK Financial is a trademark of BOKF, NA. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender . © 2023 BOKF, NA.

The post Women and Money: A Guide to Financial Empowerment appeared first on Greater Phoenix Chamber.

Source link