Pay It Forward

Women having a discussionBy Manisha Thakor

One of the great strengths of women throughout history is the role that we play in creating communities based on knowledge. Women have a long and rich track record of sharing advice on a vast range of topics, including child rearing, business and spirituality.

Yet I’ve noticed that few women share information with each other on personal finance topics, even though it is such a large part of our lives.

Are there money lessons you wish someone shared with you 20 years ago? If so, are there younger women in your life you could share those lessons with today? If this answer is yes, you are in the perfect position to pay it forward. Here are some key areas I recommend talking about with the women in your life:

  • Saving: Share with another woman when you started saving, and when you wish you had started saving. If there were techniques you used, such as paying yourself first and putting money away in your employer’s retirement plan, talk about how that helped you build the healthy nest egg you enjoy today.
  • Spending: Tell a woman in your life about a time when you made a major purchase, and whether you wished you had done it differently. Perhaps it was a home, a car, or even how much you spent on education. Sharing your tips for both finding money to save for a big purchase and the times when your spending decisions didn’t go quite as you had hoped can help another women feel safe owning up to the areas where she may need to garner more knowledge.
  • Investing: If a parent, teacher or a trusted advisor helped you learn how to invest, share those lessons with another woman. Whether it was the power of small amounts saved and invested early on or the increased “sleep well at night” factor that can come from a broadly diversified portfolio, those nuggets can be gold for someone new to personal finance.
  • Credit cards: Describe how you have handled the use of credit cards. These days, as paying with cash becomes increasingly quaint, the ability to use credit wisely is a vital life skill. Whether it’s discussing the pain of late fees and high interest rates or how paying just the monthly minimum toward your bill can in some cases nearly double the price you pay for something, frank talk about credit cards can help a woman you care about avoid a common pitfall.
  • Love and money: We encourage people to think about many facets of starting a relationship with that someone special, but rarely do we bring up financial compatibility. As women you care about couple up, talking about the areas of tension – and joy – that money has played in your relationships can help others make the most of their someone special.

Henry David Thoreau said, “Goodness is the only investment that never fails.” Life has given you a wealth of financial knowledge – much of it hard won. While your message will vary depending on the age and phase of life of the person you are talking to, you can literally change a woman’s life by sharing your wealth of knowledge and paying it forward. 

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