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Be Wise With Money

Women: Let's Talk About Money

Thrivent member Bev Thomen, a 61-year-old former nurse living in Dallas, Oregon, says her recent retirement still feels a bit like an extended vacation. But not long ago, she felt unsure about when and how she could retire at all. She’d tried to build financial know-how over the years, but couldn’t get a clear answer about how to manage the big picture. “It felt like I was being sold a product – not advice for me,” she says.

Talk finances now so your future is secure later

According to Fidelity’s Money FIT Women Study,1 many women feel the same: 92% want to know more about financial planning, but less than half feel confident discussing money with a financial advisor.

But staying silent about money can cost women financially and emotionally. So how do women gain confidence about their finances?

1. Define why money matters to them.

Brian J. Macho, a Thrivent Financial representative who works in Minnesota and Wisconsin, says women often get engaged in financial conversations when they’re able to see the “why” behind money decisions.

“Men tend to think about ‘how’ money works, and unfortunately this is what a lot of financial information focuses on,” he says. In his experience working with female clients, Macho senses that women tend to feel more engaged and, in turn, empowered when they see “what” financial strategies will do for their lives.

Macho encourages women to rank their top five values, from family and faith to philanthropy. Then they should list short- and long-term goals based on those values. “The financial strategies that come out of your goals will matter to you more because you know what they are for,” says Macho.

2. Start the conversation now.

Ruth Hayden, author of Your Money Life: The "Make-It-Work" Workbook, says most women will have a “pivot point” that leads them to take control of their money. Unfortunately, it usually comes after a negative event, like the death of a spouse.

Don’t wait for that kind of wake-up call. “Decide that you are going to deal with your money now. Period,” says Hayden.

3. Learn a little of the language.

If fear of appearing financially clueless holds you back, Hayden recommends learning just seven terms: Stock. Bond. Mutual fund. Money market. Liquidity. Diversification/asset allocation. Risk.

Research one term a day, and think about them in a context that makes sense. “For example, investing in stock is really buying part of a company. Investing in mutual funds is about ‘safety in numbers,’” says Hayden, referring to the other investors you join in a mutual fund.

4. Find trusted resources.

“The right investment strategy isn’t about the markets, or what the advisor would do. The right strategy focuses on how much longer you want to work, your personality and what you’re comfortable with,” says Constance Waisanen, the Oregon-based Thrivent Financial representative who helped Bev Thomen create her retirement strategy.

Finding financial confidence

Research by ING2 (now Voya) echoes Thomen’s experience of feeling more confident after talking with a financial advisor they trust. Thomen joins the ranks of both men and women who have that kind of confidence. Now enjoying her early retirement, she still worries about money every now and then. But she just calls Waisanen. “After every conversation, I feel so positive about life. She makes me feel like I can do this,” Thomen says.

Read this entire article from the December 2015 issue of Thrivent magazine.

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