Women and Investing

One of the striking things about investing is that it's fundamentally gender-neutral!

Once you buy a stock, bond, mutual fund or any other asset, the fact that it climbs or falls in value has nothing to do with whether you're a man or a woman!

In that sense, investing offers a pretty fair playing field compared with the rest of society.

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I think women (and men for that matter) would be better served by an approach to investing that emphasizes life stages and not gender.

Today, women's financial needs aren't terribly unique, nor is the knowhow they need to look after them.

So for the sake of all women who understand a thing or two about investing, let's stop pretending there is a really special need.

Women are well-suited as investors, since they shop well, understand value and seldom attempt anything without first getting directions and understanding the ramifications.

On the other hand, do women really have special investing needs?

The answer to that question is simply ...

Yes!

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Many women spend their prime earning years working in the home, making them the losers under the current retirement and Social Security systems.

They face many challenges men never even have to think about.

Women live longer, their careers are usually interrupted by family needs, and many of them tend to be less knowledgeable and more conservative about investing.

Or even worse, some women who don't understand investing could be prime targets for unethical salespeople.

Let's look at their biological clock.

It's a fact:

Women live five to ten years longer than men!

The average age for a woman to be widowed is 55. In fact, most widows now living in poverty were not poor before their husbands died.

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Given this biological fact a woman needs a much larger "nest egg," yet there are many things that get in her way. Think of their lives:

  1. They move in and out of the workforce to raise a family.
  2. They find that they need to move for their husband's career, putting their own careers in jeopardy.

What do these obstacles do to a woman's financial future? Well the average woman will spend many years away from the workforce, while a man spends a lot less years away. This all adds up to retirement benefits that will equal only to a part of her male counterparts.

Even though they need larger "nest eggs," many women tend to be more conservative investors.

In fact the majority of the elderly poor are women!

Because of all of the above, women should be investing differently.

They must review their personal goals, understand their risk tolerance levels, and assess their time horizon for when they will need the money.

Once that's done, it's time to learn all that they can to make wise investment decisions, and start investing as people who are afraid to take risks, or as people who plan to leave the workforce for a few years, or as people who thought their spouses would be there to help support them in their old age but aren't.

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What can they do to improve their chances of living a financially healthy life?

1. Start saving as soon as possible and often for their retirement.

2. They must not be afraid of making investment mistakes ...

They must learn from them!

3. They have to take some risk in their portfolio, but continue to do that carefully with good research to back up their choices, and finally,

4. They must arise and take full charge of their own financial future!

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