Ladies, it’s time to talk. Specifically, the time is now to start talking with your friends and family about money. Too few of us do it. A whopping 80% of women said they have refrained from discussing their finances — such as salary, expenses or investment strategies — with friends and family, according to a survey of about 1,500 women, conducted for Fidelity Investments by Kelton, a research firm. A mere 47% of women surveyed said they’re confident talking about money with a financial professional. Financial lessons from a Beanie Baby(2:52) Author Zac Bissonette discusses the mystery, and the financial lessons, of what he calls the ‘Beanie Baby’ bubble. Another survey found similar results. “Fewer than one in 10 women frequently discuss saving and planning for retirement with family and close friends,” said Catherine Collinson, president of the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, citing an annual study commissioned by the Center. Some women who choose not to discuss their finances may be highly organized with their finances. But for others, failing to raise the topic may be a sign they’re worried about divulging money mistakes, a lack of knowledge, the disorganized state of their finances or other problems. Talking about it could help. “As a woman myself, I know that when we make something a big topic of conversation, there is no problem that we cannot solve,” Collinson said. Talk it out Here’s one example where talking may help: Women, rather than men, tend to be the caregivers to aging parents. “There’s still a huge issue of women in their 50s leaving their careers to take care of Mom and Dad,” said David Bach, vice chairman of Edelman Financial Services and author of “Smart Women Finish Rich.” “There’s a huge economic cost to that,” he said. Before jumping into a caregiving role, consider discussing options with family members. Can other relatives share in the caregiving? Is it possible to maintain a part-time job? “While it’s a wonderful opportunity, to be a parent or caregiver, it can be to a woman’s own long-term detriment,” Collinson said. For some couples, failing to talk about money may be a sign the woman is letting her spouse control the financial reins. While most couples do split up the household labor — and that might mean one spouse handles the money — it’s a bad idea to completely ignore the finances. If the “money manager” dies first, the survivor will find it tough to get caught up. Often, the survivor is the wife. Almost 67% of people age 85 and older in the U.S. in 2012 were women, thanks to women’s longer life expectancy, according to U.S. Census Bureau. (The figure is projected to drop to 62% by 2030, due to men’s improving life expectancy.) See this Census report for more. Taking charge Of course, women vary widely in their approach to money. And some say women are taking greater control over their finances than before. “Women today are very much on equal footing with men in terms of wanting to take charge of their financial life,” Bach said. “In many ways, women are more motivated.”
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