In your life, you’ll have different types of relationships. One of the most challenging relationships you’ll have is the one you have with money. Society puts a lot of pressure on us to have money, for retirement, to pay for the kid’s college tuition, to buy the dream house, to go on vacation. It can be overwhelming and at times you might not even want to take a look at your bank account. But the truth is, we need to be better at talking about it, especially if the goal is to be better at managing it, and of course, having more of it to invest in or simply to enjoy it.
According to a study done by the Harvard Business Review, women control upwards of $20 trillion in annual consumer spending. That is a lot of money, yet females are still struggling with how to manage their money and are unsure as to how to plan their financial future. Even more concerning is that according to A study published in 2020 by the Swiss banking group UBS, even the most educated and high-achieving millennial women are not participating equally with their husbands when it comes to making long-term financial decisions.
If you are looking to start planning your financial future, here are money questions you should be asking yourself
1. How soon should I start saving for my retirement?
This might be one of the most difficult questions to answer because retirement is not one-size-fits-all. You first need to figure out what is your expectation and start from there. For example, most people think of retirement as an age when, in reality, it is actually a number. You need to figure out what is your financial freedom number and base your planning on that.
2. How much debt is too much?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Can I only make the minimum on my payments?
- Am I skipping certain bills to pay off others?
- Are my credit cards maxed out?
- Am I living paycheck to paycheck?
If you answered mostly yes, then you are probably under too much debt. Come up with a plan to pay off your credit cards. Start by paying off the card that has the highest interest, then pick the remaining ones off one at a time.
3. Do I need an emergency fund? How much should I put in it?
This is one of the most important questions. However, the answer varies depending on whom you ask. Some believe you can do with $1,000 for your starter emergency fund, while others think it should be somewhere between 6 and 12 months. In the end, you need to come up with a number that you feel comfortable with, but a good amount to be able to cover 3-6 months of expenses (rent, bills, etc).
4. Can I still spend money on vacation and fun things?
Of course. Ideally, if you are planning on taking a big trip, you should set up a separate savings account. Each week, you can make a recurring transfer out of your “fun expenses” budget into the account. You’ll see how it goes up in a few weeks.
5. Is there a way to be guilt-free for spending money?
Your hard-earned money is yours to do with whatever you want. Don’t feel guilty about spending money on material things or entertainment. So you have a better understanding of your finance, try segregating your cash into different buckets. That way you can easily organize your priorities (rent, bills, student loans, savings, etc.) and whatever is left to use on yourself.
6. When should I start investing, and what should I invest in?
Investing is a long-term commitment. It is a way for your money to grow over time, not overnight, so in order for it to work, you need to be patient.
As far as what to invest in, you need to do a lot of research. It could be your own business, or it can be in the stock market. You need to first understand what you are investing in and clear goals.
7. I’m getting married/ moving in with my partner, how should we divide our finances?
Before even considering having shared accounts, have an honest conversation with them. Talk about how much debt each person has, their credit score, and from there make a realistic plan. Also, you don’t have to split all the household expenses half-and-half. Come up with a set of rules that works for both of your budgets, and it makes you both comfortable.
Are there any other financial questions that we should be asking ourselves? Connect with me on Instagram @lauraleebotsacos and let me know what they are.
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