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Take Charge of Your Financial Story

Sometimes when we read gender-specific statistics in the newspaper or our Facebook feed, such as women make less than men or more elderly females live in poverty compared to men, they may seem daunting. Our circumstances may seem similar, whether it’s related to our investment portfolio or our career, and we may feel that we could also be susceptible to these statistic pitfalls.

Remember though, that a stat is just a stat; you control your own destiny when it comes to leadership, wealth or your health. Read below to learn ways to set yourself on a strong financial path.

1. Women earn less than men

The Stat: In 2017, women earned only 80.5 cents for each dollar earned by their male counterpart, according to the U.S. Census Bureau data.

Own it: You chose your career path for reasons unique to you. Some careers you fall into, others require planning and preparation. Some career paths are chosen because of the pay, others are chosen regardless of the wage. However here are thoughtful steps you can take to make the most of the path you have pursued.

  • Stay competitive: And throughout your career, you’ll make multiple career choices along the way. So as long as your work meets the goal you set out to achieve, make sure you are getting paid a competitive wage. When it comes to your total compensation, be as proactive as possible. Do your research and educate yourself to find out the pay range for your current position as well as the position you aspire to get in the future.
  • Ask for the raise: Write down your accomplishments on a regular basis so when it comes time for your review, you can confidently report your progress to your boss and have support for a wage increase and/or bonus. If selling yourself and your strengths does not come naturally, practice asking for a raise with a friend or relatives, so you can feel comfortable having the conversation with your boss.

While studies show a gender gap in salaries and retirement savings, put yourself in the best position at every step in your career. This is important because when you make more, you can save and invest more.

2. Women don’t save enough for retirement

The Stat: According to the 2016 Gender Pay Gap in Financial Wellness report by Financial Finesse, a financial education think tank, there is a 28% gap between how much extra women need to be saving in comparison to men to cover estimated retirement expenses.

Own it: To close the gap, there are a few financial areas you can focus on improving based on your individual situation.

  • Make a budget. Look closely at your expenses to make sure you are saving as much as you can for retirement. Create and stick to a budget to keep track of your monthly spending to see if you can find some extra cash to set aside for your retirement.
  • Contribute to tax-advantaged retirement accounts. Take a look at how much you are setting aside in your 401(k) at work and your individual retirement accounts. Each time you receive a raise, increase your contribution percentage of your 401(k) right away because every little amount can add up. If you are in your 20s, it is possible to be a millionaire by the time you retire at age 65. And if you are over 50, the IRS allows an additional catch-up amount into your IRA and 401(k).
  • Pay off debt. If possible, if you have a balance on your credit card, pay more than the minimum and when the card is paid off, put that extra amount into your 401(k) or IRA. If you have student loans or a mortgage, figure out if you can make more than the minimum payment to pay off those balances at a faster rate.

Saving for retirement is one of the most important goals especially for women as we typically live longer. With retirement potentially lasting 20 years or more, women often have higher living expenses and higher medical costs. The key is to start as soon as you are able to so your money has time to grow.

3. Women feel they lack enough financial knowledge to invest

The Stat: According to the 2018 UBS study on Financial Experience & Behaviors, more than a 50% of women polled felt as if they were not prepared to make effective financial decisions.

Own it: There are a few different ways a lack of confidence about financial literacy can hurt women. Sometimes we have a hard time making a decision about what to do with our investment portfolios and end up doing nothing. But keeping all of your savings in a cash account can be detrimental, as inflation can hurt your buying power. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Think long term. Depending on your age, you may have a decade or several decades to invest. Know that time can be on your side and learn about two pitfalls when it comes to your retirement portfolio.
  • Start where you are. Sometimes we think we need to master a subject before we make a decision. For others, you might not even know where to start learning about how to invest. Know that you can always reach out to a financial advisor, such as those at Jemma Financial, who can help you get started.
  • Make it automatic. Don’t worry about timing your investments based on how the market performed today. Instead, set up automatic investments on a monthly or quarterly basis and transfer a small amount to your retirement accounts. By dollar cost averaging, you’ll be investing a fixed amount of money on a regular basis, which will help you meet your long-term goals.

Sometimes it’s a matter of getting comfortable with getting your accounts set up, automatic investments made and then rebalancing on an annual basis. Jemma Financial helps women of all ages build portfolios and get them ready to meet their long-term goals.

Looking to further build your career…

Learn more about how other women—such as Liz Robinson, VP at TESSCO Technologies or Melissa Sparrow, Chief of Medical Staff at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center or Entrepreneur Katherine Pinkard, President of Pinkard Properties—built their careers by logging on to

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