The first National Women’s Equality Day was in 1971. Women couldn’t get credit cards in their own name back then. And if a woman became pregnant, she could be legally fired. Thankfully, a lot has changed, but some things haven’t. Women still do not receive equal pay for equal work. The gap is roughly 20%1, and women continue to live longer than men, now by an average of seven years.
That one-two punch — lower earnings over a longer lifetime — makes it critical for women to become even more knowledgeable and confident about their finances. We talked with Darrelyn Dunmore, a Financial Representative with Strategic Wealth Specialists in Mobile, Alabama about her own journey to financial confidence and how she helps other women become more empowered.
HOW DID YOUR JOURNEY TO FINANCIAL CONFIDENCE BEGIN?
We know that 80-90% of women will become solely responsible for their finances at some point in their lives, mainly due to divorce or widowhood. That’s what happened to me. I went through a divorce in 2000. Suddenly, I was a single mother of two daughters and scared to death.
WHAT DID YOU DO?
I signed up for a seminar about how women could work towards financial freedom. The leaders encouraged us to take a “financial snapshot” of where we were at that moment, and to map out where we wanted to be in the future. We also gained an understanding of basic financial concepts and how they applied to our lives. That experience gave me the courage and understanding to move forward.
HOW HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE TRANSLATED INTO YOUR WORK?
Nearly two-thirds of American women, ages 40 to 79, have already dealt with a major financial “life crisis,” such as job loss, divorce, the death of a spouse, or serious illness.
I meet with women of all ages and every socioeconomic level. And they all share the same concern: “How can I protect myself financially?”
Married women want to know whether they will be okay if something happens to their husband. In many cases, the husband doesn’t understand their financial situation himself or he won’t give his wife this vital information. I’ll never forget talking with an 81-year-old widow who said, “He wasn’t supposed to go first. I don’t know what we have or where to start.”
WHAT ABOUT YOUNGER WOMEN?
Many millennial-age women contact us because they’ve seen what their parents went through in the 2008 financial downturn. Savings wiped out. Jobs lost. Net worth slashed. They want to begin financial planning now so a similar crisis doesn’t set them back. Many women are just like I was back in 2000: divorced and scared. All these women are educated, but they just don’t know what they don’t know about their finances.
HOW DO YOU HELP WOMEN BECOME FINANCIALLY CONFIDENT?
Financial education made all the difference in my life — and that’s what we provide to our clients. We help women get financially organized, teach them about what they have and how it all works, and then empower them with the knowledge to make great decisions. There are four pillars to our approach:
- Protect First – We show women how to safeguard their wealth from unexpected life events through vital income protection tools, including emergency savings, disability insurance, and life insurance.
- Put More Money in Your Pocket – We explain how to improve cash flow by living a budgeted lifestyle, cutting expenses, reducing debt, gaining tax efficiencies, and other smart moves.
- Save and Grow – Research shows women are more likely to focus on day-to-day expenses rather than long-term financial management. We talk about the value of becoming a Confident Planner, instead, and investing to minimize risk and gain tax advantages.
- Retire Right – Even though women live longer, they aim lower when setting retirement savings goals: $200,000 versus $400,000 for men on average. We show women how to retire with confidence with a plan takes into account the income they’ll need to live comfortably.
Women will likely continue to outlive men. But living well, not just living long, is the true goal. To become more confident in your financial decision-making, take advantage of all the financial empowerment resources available for women—here’s a good place to start—and talk with a financial representative.
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