Money & Career

4 essential financial planning steps for women

By: Bryan Borzykowski

Author: Canadian Living

Money & Career

4 essential financial planning steps for women

By: Bryan Borzykowski
When it comes to retirement and financial planning, a new global survey reveals that men still take charge of the household finances. According to a report from HSBC, 65 per cent of men surveyed make all or most of the family's financial decisions without anyone else's input. Guys do get more help in Canada, where 49 per cent of men and 54 per cent of women say they share in the decision-making when it comes to planning retirement.

How does that stack up with other countries? The survey found that in China and South Korea, only three per cent more men take sole responsibility for retirement decisions than woman; Taiwan is the only country where woman take a greater role in retirement planning than men -- 39 per cent compared to 35 per cent.

Why gender equality matters
Margaret Willis, executive vice-president and head of retail banking and wealth management for HSBC Bank Canada, said in a release that it's "disappointing and concerning to see that there is still such inequality globally between men and women of all ages when it comes to making decisions about saving for retirement.”

If women aren't involved in the retirement planning process, they could be setting themselves up for some serious financial trouble in their golden years. "A lack of involvement is leaving women potentially exposed to financial hardship in later life," said Willis.

HSBC also found that this discrepancy doesn't deviate with age. That means things aren't getting better for younger women. Another HSBC survey, released in May 2011, shows that only 24 per cent of women in their 50s have a financial plan; 30 per cent think they won't be able to survive financially in retirement.

The survey's findings are nothing new. Every year a new report comes out that says women aren't active enough in retirement planning -- a big problem, given their longer life expectancies.

So what should women be doing? Here are four steps to get started.

1. Find a financial adviser
If your spouse won't let you in on the family financial planning, talk to an adviser to help you understand what you'll need to do for retirement. If your lack of interest is more of a factor, ask your family adviser to give you the key points you need to know.

2. Be frank with your spouse
Make it clear that you need to know what's going on with the family's money. After all, women live longer than men and are often left alone to make all the financial decisons. If there are gaps in your knowledge of where you stand, ask your spouse to explain the family financial situation.

3. Trust yourself
Research shows that women who do invest are better at it than men. Female investors are more diversified and panic less than guys. Know that given a little knowledge, you can make smart choices.

4. Have your own bank account
This doesn't mean you should shut down your joint accounts, but do have your own place to put some extra cash every month. Not only will that force you to pay attention to your own cash inflows, but if something happens you'll have an emergency fund to dip into.

The point of all this is to take control of your own finances. Women shouldn't rely on their spouses to handle the family's hard-earned cash themselves. As with most decisions in marriage, goals around money need to be shared.

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Money & Career

4 essential financial planning steps for women