Money is a feminist issue — and yet, women are still reluctant to talk about it. According to a recent Bustle survey of more than 1,000 millennial women, more than 50 percent of people said they never discuss personal finances with friends, even though 28 percent reported feeling stressed out about money every single day. That’s why Bustle is launching Grown-A$$ Finances, a series that gets real about what millennial women are doing with their money, and why — because managing your money should feel empowering, not intimidating.
One of those key moments when adulthood slaps you across the face is when you first realize that you're a grown-up and need to handle your own finances, or else scary things will happen. The reasons you need to be on top of your finances range from, "so my Starbucks addiction doesn't bankrupt me" to, "so the bank doesn't seize my home," and all of them are important. Managing your finances becomes even more crucial as you age and have to start asking yourself certain intimidating questions: How can I invest my money to make more money? When will I be able to retire? Will I be able to afford name brand toilet paper forever, or will I have to switch to generic?
One of the many tricky parts about this is that the area of finances isn't one taught in school as commonly as math and history (also important). Yes, you can study it in college; but shouldn't we be teaching kids about money from a younger age? In 2012, former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said, "Financial education supports not only individual well-being, but also the economic health of our nation … Consumers who can make informed decisions about financial products and services not only serve their own best interests, but collectively, they also help promote broader economic stability."
So, it would seem that teaching people the reasons to stay on top of their finances is something that should happen sooner rather than later. What exactly are the reasons why properly managing your money is so vital? These, for a start.
Also, check out the “Grown-A$$ Finances” stream in the Bustle App for more tips and tricks on how to save and spend your money.
1. You might be charged for things without your knowledge, like hidden fees in a legitimate charge.
2. You'll better avoid credit card debt.
3. You'll find easy ways to save on purchases.
4. You'll learn to use credit cards to your advantage.
5. You could pay off debt faster.
6. "The #1 reason is independence ... pursue happiness without the stress of money dragging you down," Kimberly Palmer, author of Generation Earn: A Young Professional's Guide to Investing, Spending and Giving Back, The Economy of You, and Smart Mom, Rich Mom, tells Bustle.
8. You'll see the bigger picture.
9. Red flags will show up before it's too late — like a bill that randomly (and inaccurately) shot up out of nowhere.
10. Your credit score and financial history will work in your favor.
11. You'll spot theft before it's too late.
12. "It contributes to the well-being of those who depend on you, whether it be parents, siblings, or children ... freeing them to focus on achieving their financial goals," explains Tonya Rapley, CEO of My Fab Finance and CFO of FOAM, to Bustle.
13. You could be charged money without your consent, as in a bogus credit card charge.
15. You'll pay off student loan debt (or other debts) faster.
16. You'll learn what's a necessity and what's a luxury.
17. Freedom! "You don't have to be wealthy; you just need to be in control of your financial goals and liabilities. Facing your finances and coming up with a plan is often the hardest part, but once you do that you'll be able to make sure every choice you make brings you closer to your goals, not further away," says Lauren Lyons Cole, money editor at Consumer Reports and certified financial planner, to Bustle.
18. You won't be surprised come tax season.
19. It'll be easier to know when to pay with cash versus a credit card.
20. You'll better keep track of money you're owed for refunds or reimbursements.
21. Being late in paying bills could mean having a harder time locking in a good interest rate on loans, according to Priya Malani, partner at Stash Wealth.
22. Determining how much can go into savings every month will be effortless.
23. Your bank could reward you for being a responsible customer.
25. Your bank account will be so much less intimidating if you master it.
26. "It allows you to do more of what you care about. Whether it's traveling, volunteering, investing in businesses and people you believe in, or funding causes you believe in, a good handle on your finances means that you can expand your capacity and ability to impact the world," says Rapley.
27. You're more likely to pay off credit card charges before interest kicks in.
28. You might find hidden deductions you never noticed before.
29. You'll find creative ways to save — like gift cards. For example, you can sometimes purchase $20 gas gift cards for $15.
30. You'll learn that money sitting in your checking account isn't doing you any good.
31. It's easier to start saving when you're younger. "In some ways, it just gets harder to do so as you get older, and have more financial responsibilities squeezing your budget," says Palmer.
33. You'll discover ways to save on groceries — like bringing your own reusable bags, which some stores reward you for by deducting money from your final bill.
34. Your money will have meaning beyond its dollar value.
35. You'll learn the difference between good debt and bad debt.
36. You might retire sooner! If you don't plan accordingly and save for your later years, you might not be able to retire on your terms, explains Malani.
37. You'll know exactly how much money you need to survive.
38. You'll set aside that emergency money for a rainy day.
39. "The sooner you get a good handle on your finances, the less you'll have to compromise," says Malani, speaking on enjoying life (like travel) but not giving up on goals like paying off student loans and saving to buy a house.
41. Compounding money is your best friend — start immediately.
42. Failure to properly manage your money can have a dangerous toll: "You risk going into debt or being financially insecure, which can cause immense stress and severely limit your life choices," says Palmer.
43. You'll avoid anxiety and depression, which are two common side effects of financial stress.
44. You might also avoid relationship stress. Some studies have found that finances are the leading cause of stress in relationships.
45. Poor financial planning and not establishing a credit history could make it harder to get a mortgage, explains Malani.
46. Another great point Malani makes? It could be more difficult to get approved for an apartment without a co-signor.
47. Carolyn McClanahan, financial planner and physician, explains to Bustle that the most important reason we must pay attention to how we spend now is because there will come a day when we can no longer work. Of course, we need enough to live off of.
"Finance is like the weather. You may not think about it all the time but it is all around you — always. You don't want to be the person who is wearing sunglasses on the day you need a raincoat. Make sure you have the right equipment — savings account, credit card, retirement account — and review them regularly to make sure they are working for you." Wise words from Annie Shaw, editor of CashQuestions.com.
49. "[Being] money savvy represents freedom — especially for women. Despite the gains women have made in the world of finance, we’re less confident about money issues ... understanding your money situation and managing your wealth is power. If you want independence, you absolutely must be in the driver’s seat when it comes to your finances," says Melissa Leong, a personal finance expert.
50. McClanahan echoes a similar thought: Historically, finances have largely fallen under men's responsibilities. But women need to at least equally share in handling finances and understanding everything that's going on.
51. Excessive spending isn't the answer. "We think that we can spend our way to a sense of inner self worth. But remember, we were worthy the day we were born — and nothing that we buy makes it more or less true," says Leong.
52. It affects your happiness: "Enjoy your money. The secret to being relaxed about your finances is being in control of them, which means budgeting. A holiday of a lifetime or a big ticket item like jewelry or a car will be a punishment, not a pleasure, if you are weighed down by the burden of paying for it. Money doesn't buy happiness, but happiness comes from being master of your money," says Shaw.
53. Rubina Ahmed-Haq, a personal finance expert who runs Always Save Money, explains why it's especially important for women: We make less money (so we need to save even more), we take time off for kids, we live longer, and we tend to marry older. We're likelier to be single as seniors, and thus eventually managing our finances alone.
54. Ahmed-Haq makes another great point: If you ever fall behind in your finances, it's way harder to catch up.
55. "If you aren't making your financial health a priority, no one else will, so be sure to take the time to educate yourself on how to manage your money effectively," says Ashley Jacobs, Wise Bread's community manager.
Remember, above all else, money can buy freedom and peace of mind.
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For more ways to stretch your hard-earned dollars, check out the “Grown-A$$ Finances” stream in the Bustle App.