Perhaps you’re one of the 40% of married women who’s now facing divorce. Or among the 700,000 women who become widowed each year. Or maybe you’re downshifting from the top of your game and taking on a new role. In each of these seminal moments, women’s lives are in a state of flux. And while the catalysts may differ, the feelings they evoke are often the same: overwhelmed, alone, underprepared.
Women in transition have something else in common. They’re often staring down life-altering decisions—many of them financial. The challenges that come with that range from drowning in paperwork and opening new investment accounts to adjusting your spending and becoming the primary financial decision maker.
Even trickier? Many of society’s traditional structures don’t account for the human and emotional side of these watershed moments. Amid the financial disclosures and legal processes, few professional advisors are trained to handle non-technical concerns like fear, grief, and stress.
But experts advising women in flux find that those who emerge intact often share a common approach. Here are their four key takeaways (Display):
Ease into decision making. Most women’s immediate reactions tend to fall into one of two camps—either fix everything right away or avoid decisions altogether (e.g., investing all your money in stocks or hiding it under your mattress). A better approach? Find the balance between fix and avoid and don’t rush into anything. That way you can educate yourself, overcome the jargon, and arrive at a place where you feel confident taking over the reins.
Survey the landscape. Don’t suffer in solitude. Discover other women who have been in your shoes and make them your allies. Spend time getting to know your advisors and leaning on your networks. Consult broadly to find trusted professionals whose style resonates.
Be willing to ask for help. While you’re undoubtedly bright and capable in other aspects of life, there’s no shame in not knowing all the answers. And though you routinely keep 10 plates spinning, now’s the time to let others share the load. If you haven’t driven financial decision making until now, speak up, ask questions, and make your voice heard. And if you’re not connecting with the explanations you’re given, consider a change to make the team your own.
Get clear on your vision. You can’t be expected to make momentous financial decisions about a future that’s completely unclear. So be bold and courageous. What does money mean to you? Look around and explore—with an eye towards 20–30 years from now (not just five)—before putting your wealth behind your passion.
Life inevitably throws most women a curveball at some point. With these four steps, you’ll be ready to move forward—at your own pace—and grow into your newfound role.
Excerpted from our podcast episode “Four Things Successful Women Do in Big Financial Transitions.” For more tips on becoming financially engaged, subscribe to our Women & Wealth podcast or check out the related blogs here.