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Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: Women and Money Talks

A new study finds that women are more likely to discuss medical issues and other taboo topics with others than talk about money matters. We’ll examine the reasons why women are so tight-lipped about talking dollars and cents, despite their keen financial habits.

A new study finds that women are more likely to discuss medical issues and other taboo topics with others than talk about money matters. We’ll examine the reasons why women are so tight-lipped about talking dollars and cents, despite their keen financial habits.

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(Photo Credit: shehan peruma/Flickr)

The Fidelity Investments Money FIT Women Study was conducted by global insights firm Kelton Global, on behalf of Fidelity Investments, in October of 2014. The online study surveyed 1,542 women participants 18-plus years of age who were either employed or retired and held qualifying retirement accounts. The study found that women want to become more knowledgeable about their long-term financial options, however they don’t feel confident enough to seek out professional assistance due to “lack of financial knowledge and experience, and not knowing where to turn for guidance.” In fact, eight in 10 women confessed that they have deliberately abstained from discussing money matters with family and friends due to said insecurities.

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Even when financial guidance from a professional is offered through an employer, 65 percent of the women surveyed withheld from the opportunity – still, these women expressed a strong desire to become more involved in their finances, particularly in the areas of financial planning (92 percent of participants) and money and investing (75 percent). The appetite is definitely there, it’s just that women are holding back from indulging.

The study’s other key findings show just how much more open women are to discuss other taboo topics over money talks:

1. Women are more likely to talk to their partners about health issues (78 percent more likely) and issues at work (71 percent); than investment ideas (65 percent), difficulties with daycare (48 percent), and shopping tips (47 percent).

2. Women are more open with friends about shopping tips (65 percent more likely), parenting issues (46 percent), issues at work (44 percent), health issues (43 percent); than investment ideas (17 percent) and spending habits (25 percent).

Based on the study, women are simply too uncomfortable to openly discuss such a personal and confident topic. In an interview with Fidelity, Kathy Murphy, president of Fidelity’s Personal Investing, indicates, “This lack of confidence is really self-imposed. Our analysis of more than 12 million investors shows that women actually demonstrated stronger saving rates than their male counterparts and enjoyed better long-term investment performance when they did engage. Unfortunately, too many women still hesitate to take control of their finances.”

Maybe this is why women don’t negotiate their salaries as much as men. Women are more adverse to discussing money matters, particularly negotiating a raise, due to the fear of being seen as aggressive or unlikeable. There’s also a definite double standard for assertive women versus men in the workplace, hence the whole #BanBossy initiative that aimed to break down the stereotypes surrounding assertive women and girls who weren’t afraid to speak up (like a man). So, what’s a girl to do? Here are some tips to help women become more comfortable talking about important financial matters.

1. Be brave – Ladies, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and step our of your comfort zone. Take this journey at your own pace and start learning the basics of financial planning, retirement, investments, etc. in the comfort of your own home. It’s as easy as a simple Google search to get started.

2. Talk to a professional – If you don’t know where to start, seek out a professional who can help steer you in the right direction. Also, ask your employer if there are any financial programs available to employees – all the resources you need to get started may be readily available.

3. You’re not alone. Seek out a partner-in-crime, if not your own partner, to go at this financial enlightenment together – the buddy system definitely applies in this situation.

For more information about negotiating your salary/raise, check out PayScale’s Salary Negotiation Guide, which provides a step-by-step guide to getting the paycheck you deserve, regardless of gender. Best of luck!

Tell Us What You Think

Do you wish you were more confident about discussing money matters? If so, share your reason(s) why you shy away from financial discussions and what you wish to learn. Join the conversation on Twitter.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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