If the word “investing” makes you squirm, you’re not alone. It’s easy to get bogged down in confusion from Martha Stewart indictments to Spotify “going public” to NPR covering the morning stocks.
But it’s also essential for women to do a better job of thinking about long-term investments. Statistically, women live longer than men. Thanks to that pay gap we’ve been covering all month, we make less than men over time. And then, it turns out, we invest less of the money we do earn. So what does that mean? It means that we’ll live longer, on less with less saved than our male counterparts. Not exactly the retirement on a beach you were planning, right?
That’s why we asked our favorite money coach, Ashley Feinstein Gerstley of The Fiscal Femme to break down some of the most common mistakes she sees women make with investing — and some ways we can remedy them. Here’s Ashley on her four biggest faux pas.
1. Not getting started
“The gender investing gap is real — women are investing less than men. That, coupled with the fact that we earn less and live longer puts us at a huge disadvantage when it comes to becoming wealthy, reaching our financial goals and funding our retirement. There’s so much information out there about investing, it’s hard to know where to start. Not to mention, investing jargon can sound like a foreign language and the idea of losing any of our hard-earned money can feel like reason enough to stay away. We lose so much more by keeping our longterm savings in cash which actually loses value over time. If you feel paralyzed about where to start, ask for help and then start.”
2. Not automating
“I’m a big proponent of making our financial lives as easy as possible. When we automate our saving and investing, we can rest assured that it’s actually going to happen. We don’t have to remember to do it and we don’t have to worry that our expenses will take up the money we planned to invest. It’s how we pay ourselves first!”
3. Paying too many fees
“When it comes to our investments, fees come directly from our profits so we want to minimize them where possible. Watch out for fees to buy and sell investments. If you invest $100 and incur a $7.00 trading fee, you are already 7 percent down. Blah! Also, check the expense ratio to see how much it costs to own an investment. One percent might sound small but if you earn 5 percent, you only get to keep 4 percent of that!”
4. Watching too closely
“It might feel responsible to watch your investments every day but the normal (and less normal) ups and downs of investing can trigger our emotions and cause us to act irrationally. Buy low, sell high sounds easy enough but I can share from experience that in the moment it’s a lot harder than it sounds! We can invest for the long-term and avoid acting on emotion by watching our investments less. Sometimes easier is better!”
Simple enough, right? Try making one of these switches today. Fun fact: until I met Ashley, I wasn’t automating. These days, I have both an emergency fund and a retirement fund drawing automatically from my checking account. That simple step? Totally paid off.
Written by: Career Contessa