Only forty-nine years ago, a woman couldn’t open a credit card without a male co-signer.
Things have changed significantly since then, but women still have to navigate a world that often seems like it was built for men.
Here are three myths about finances and investing women sometimes believe–and why they’re not true.
1. It’s too little (or too late)
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that if you don’t have hundreds or thousands of dollars to save and invest, what’s the point of trying? Especially if you’ve ever struggled to make ends meet, saving or investing can feel impossible.
But saving and investing don’t have to be huge parts of your budget; they can be small habits that add up over time.
Let’s say you use an investment platform like Ellevest to invest just $20 a month. The historical annual stock market return is 10% (source), so in twenty years, your $4,900 could nearly double to $9,531. That’s not a new house or a new car, but that extra money didn’t require you to work extra shifts, extra hours, sell anything, get a new degree, or learn a new skill. Your future self will thank you for that small monthly step!
Whether it’s a high-yield savings account, a 401k through your employer, a brokerage account, or just an extra savings account you send money to via direct deposit every month, even the tiniest amounts add up over time. It’s never, ever too late to start.
2. I’m not good with money
Many people feel they’re not good with money, but in reality, managing money is a skill–a learnable skill. Often the people who seem effortless about money are the people whose parents have taught them about money or given them a financial cushion while they made mistakes.
Also worth noting are the systemic biases around women and money; one study found that 90% of articles written for women about money were focused on saving and budgeting, while most of the articles written for men are about investing and growing their money.
The message seems to be that men are smart enough to grow their money, but women have to control their spending. Gross.
The truth is: there’s nothing stopping you from learning everything you need to about money to meet your goals and prepare yourself for the future!
3. It’s my fault I don’t have more
If you’re like me, you’ve bought into the narrative that your money problems are because you lack discipline. If I could just stop buying lattes, you think, I’d be rich!
Whether or not you can afford lattes is between you and your budget, but most of us aren't going to reach our financial goals by simply cutting out our coffee shop spending.
Women face an inequitable workforce and unequal pay, which no amount of budgeting self-discipline is going to fix.
The good news is that more and more women are breaking money taboos, speaking up about mistakes and good decisions, and helping other women earn more and break inequitable cycles.
Here are some of my favorite resources for learning about money:
- Brown Ambition Podcast with Tiffany Aliche And Mandi Woodruff-Santos
- Tori Dunlap
- Nerd Wallet
Here’s to becoming money experts and changing our financial futures!