The iPhone SE has hit the stands, and like all of the iPhones before it, the craze for getting this new device ensues.
For the iPhone aficionado, the new phone features a 4-inch screen with retina display, 12-mega pixels iSight rear-facing camera, A9 processor and M9 motion coprocessor, and touch fingerprint sensor. To me, it comes in four different colors, I hear the pictures are pretty great and it’s smaller, so it will hopefully now fit in my back pocket.
So what does the iPhone have anything to do with finance? Well, I have shaped my career around empowering women to take the driver’s seat in understanding their finances. However, I still find that for many women personal finance that goes beyond everyday bills is not a priority, especially once they get married. Often, their husband becomes in charge of everything money related, from bank accounts to retirement plans, and especially investments. As a financial advisor and a woman, my job is to empower women to be strong, to educate themselves and to think for themselves.
With that said, it became very clear to me exactly how these women feel when it comes to their money and their marriage.
When it comes to technology, I am the same way. If the internet is down, my husband will take care of it. If we need a new computer, a printer or a TV, I let him take care of it. Even when it comes to something as simple as my new phone, I automatically deflect any ‘technology’ questions or decisions to my husband.
We were recently at an AT&T store as I was finally ready to make use of my upgrade for a new iPhone. The AT&T representative, very nicely, went through all the different features of the new phone and mentioned how it differed from my current one. He kept asking me questions about what I was looking for, what I thought about this feature or that, and my immediate response was to look at my husband and defer any and all questions to him.
After several instances of my husband answering for me, the AT&T representative politely interrupted and said, “Ma’am I asked you the question. This phone is for you, not for him.” It was at this moment that I realized this AT&T employee was doing exactly what I set myself to do every time I walk into my office. I was acting like many of the women I meet when they first come in, inexperienced, insecure, and afraid. Why was I letting someone else make this decision for me? Why wasn’t I trying to empower myself?
It dawned on me that whether it is technology or finance, women are more likely to take a step back if they are not knowledgeable about or interested in the subject. It might not matter much if your new phone has retina display or a rear-facing camera but when it comes to your finances, these small details can have a huge impact on your daily life and your financial future.
Here are 3 ways to upgrade your finances:
1. Get the Clearest Picture:
The first and most important thing you can do is to understand your whole financial picture. Not sure where to start? Start by tracking how much you make, how much you spend, and how much you save. There are amazing tools like Mint.com that help make this as easy as clicking a button.
2. SE stands for Saving for Emergencies:
Make sure you build up an emergency fund that can cover 3-6 months of your expenses. You might know the date for every new iPhone release, but you can’t predict an emergency and you need to be ready if something were to come up. Whether it is losing your job, your car breaking down or a sudden medical issue, a solid emergency fund can help protect you from these unexpected events.
3. Downsize Your Phone Not Your Savings:
One of the most notable features of the new iPhone is its smaller size. However, your savings is the one ‘financial feature’ you should be upgrading. Make sure you are maxing out your retirement savings, especially if your employer offers a match on your company 401K. If you don’t have a company 401K, open up an IRA or Roth IRA and make sure to automate your contributions. Ideally, you want to save anywhere from 10-20% of your income. This might seem daunting but start small by setting aside maybe 3-5% of your income and slowly make your way to up.
As women, we need to stop taking the back seat and jump in the driver’s seat when it comes to our lives.
Technology? No problem. Personal finance? Bring it on.
Personal finance is not a shiny new toy or man’s hobby, but a critical part of our lives that we need to understand as women, daughters, sisters, and especially wives and mothers. Don’t wait until a man from the AT&T store stands up for you, stand up for yourself and your financial future.
If my husband and I split up, I might not know the first thing about playing our AppleTV or fixing a problem on my iPad, but I know that I will not need to depend on anyone else to secure my financial future.
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