Investing is one of those things I know I should be doing, but I find totally terrifying. I never click on the Stocks app on my iPhone. I don’t really know the difference between the NASDAQ, the S&P 500, or the Dow Jones. I just know you want the stock market to go up and not down. I also can’t help but equate Wall Street with the asshole bros filling lower Manhattan bars most nights, who drink too much, act rudely toward women, and generally behave badly. Do I really want to put my hard-earned money in their hands? (No.)
But I also know that there’s a real connection between wealth and investing. And I’m not ashamed to say that I would like to be wealthy one day. I don’t work in a particularly well-paying profession (I make a comfortable living, but it’s unlikely I will ever count myself among the 1%), so if I’m going to retire one day — or hell, send my kid to college — I realize I need to make some smart investments now. And I’m sure Priya Malani, our go-to financial expert at Refinery29, would argue that at 35, I’m way late to the game. But, she also assures me, it’s never too late to get started.
Unfortunately, I’m not alone. A Fidelity report found that 92% of women want to learn more about financial planning (maybe that’s why you’re reading this), yet 80% aren’t talking about money with anyone; and only 47% feel comfortable discussing money with a professional. As a result, we lag behind men in how much we’re investing and, in the long run, how much money we’re making.
Yes, the gender-wage gap is partly to blame for this lag, but it’s not the only problem. I’ve always felt like I don’t have enough financial knowledge to get started, and I don’t have the time to learn. But putting this kind of stuff off is crazy — not taking care of your finances is like not taking care of your health. I wouldn’t dream of not exercising, so why don’t I spend some more time managing my money? One thing I’ve learned working with Priya is the stuff I previously found super complicated isn’t actually that confusing. And, yeah, it takes a little time to get started. But we’re talking money here. I want it. I need it. So I might have to spend some time getting organized in order to make more of it. That seems like a natural price to pay.
So how much could you really be making if you started investing this week? I ask Priya to crunch some numbers, and here’s one example:
If you start out at 25 with an annual salary of $50,000:
Starting investment amount: $5,000
Annual Contribution: $2,500 (5% of annual salary)
At 65 you’ll have: $465,000*
*Based on an 8% rate of return.
I know what you’re thinking: Who is 25 and makes $50,000?! Who has an extra $2,500 to invest every year?! I have student loans and credit card debt and no fuck-off fund. That’s okay. I wasn’t in a position to put money into the stock market at 25. But some are in that position, and that’s why we’re writing this story — so they can get educated. And you should read it anyway, so one day, when you have some extra cash to work with, you can make smart investments, too. Because men are all over the investment thing, and it’s time for women to catch up.
So where do you even begin? Ahead, Priya and I outline how to invest in 10 (pretty easy) steps. Sure, it’s a little scary, but keep in mind this is a long-term goal. While investing isn’t going to make you rich overnight (or in time for your wedding next year), it can potentially help you achieve all the things you’ve only dreamed of. Men are already getting in on the action. It’s time for them to stop having all the fun (and making all the money).
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