When Lexi Gibbs was a young girl, she stashed the cash from her babysitting jobs in a jar. She also learned to read about Hershey, her favorite chocolate company, in the newspaper’s stock market pages, and knew that stocks are about “investing.” But she also admits that as fortunate as she was to grow up knowing about money, she didn’t always connect the dots between the dollars she saved and investing in the stock market. Now that she’s an investment expert, she’s adamant about “getting us all invested” so that our money works as hard as we do.
During our recent “Money Stories” podcast conversation, Lexi’s theme was consistent and clear: to have true financial security, it’s extremely important to establish an investing roadmap as early as possible in order to build your personal capital. Women’s lives are complex, often involving multiple roles, with ins and outs of the workforce for many, and sometimes unanticipated financial surprises. Becoming an informed and involved investor is the best way to grow the personal capital we all need and want to meet every challenge and take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way.
She reminds us that many of us may still be short-changing our futures by not participating in investing as much as we should. One hopeful sign is that during the pandemic, more women were attentive to their finances by saving more and spending less. For many of us, more time at home gave us more time to absorb some of the information that is out there about personal finance. While more and more women are beginning to talk about money, the unfortunate reality is that only 1/3 of women actually think of themselves as “investors.”
When asked why this “investing gap” still exists, she reflected on some of the “mixed messages” that women continue to receive when it comes to money. “There may still be some old perceptions that investing isn’t something that women do, and that can result in some of us believing that we don’t know enough about it, which makes us afraid to begin.”
“And it’s also true that we’re already doing so much, that taking on investing is just one more thing to add to our already full plates. But the reality is that we can’t afford NOT to be informed and involved.”
What’s the best way to start? “The first step is to find someone to talk to and ask for their help,” advises Lexi. In Lexi’s experience as an advisor, it’s quite typical for those just wanting to become more comfortable with their finances and investing to have many, many questions about the process. Asking those questions is key. So is discipline. “If you’re you in the workforce, build up a nest egg. If you get a raise, don’t become dependent on it. If you get a bonus, save it.” If you are not in the workforce, perhaps raising children, become an expert on the family budget, set savings goals, and talk with your spouse or partner about the family’s finances.
These aren’t new ideas, but those who apply them diligently will literally be “feeding and funding your future,” as Lexi says. “The earlier you start, the more financial flexibility you will have to do the things that are important to you, whether it’s taking time off from work, paying for projects, or giving to charitable causes. But you have to pay yourself first.”
Lexi reminds us that even those of us who are already very involved with our personal finances should keep learning. Every so often, it’s wise to take a fresh look at how we’re going about taking care of our money. It may be as straightforward as putting some of that cash we’ve stashed away to work in our investment program. Or we might be holding onto old mindsets or habits that don’t serve us well any longer. Perhaps past events, perceptions, or situations that really aren’t relevant for us today may be holding us back.
One way to jump-start our financial planning this spring is to attend Howland’s upcoming “Money Stories Workshop,” a 2 hour online interactive session on June 9th, during which we’ll explore our own money stories. What’s a money story? Your money story encompasses personal experiences, beliefs, and goals that shape how you feel and how you act when it comes to money. Our money stories, which begin forming from a young age, evolve with us.
As Lexi reminds us, maybe we would like aspects of our money story to look different a year from now. In talking with other women and sharing experiences, we can reflect on emotions or tendencies that may be hindering our progress. We can acknowledge what we would like to change about our financial lives, unlock new possibilities to build our confidence, and increase our sense of control. As is true with other areas of life, the opportunity to connect with other women to build our network can be enriching and empowering.
In closing our recent podcast conversation, Lexi urges women to collaborate and learn from each other. “Building a team of trusted financial mentors and advisors is something I love to help women do.” We hope that our “Money Stories” workshop will be an opportunity for women to share with each other how we think about money, and what we want to do differently in the future. No matter where we are on our financial journey, there is always room for growth. Come and join the conversation!
Register for Howland Capital’s Money Story Workshop on June 9th and write your own Money Story.