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    7 Major Things This Expert Wants Every Woman To Know About Investing

    It's not just a rich white man's game anymore.

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    Though we've come a long way, American women still have very different financial experiences than men.

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    Not to bum you out, but there's the gender pay gap, the motherhood penalty, and the pink tax for starters, plus the added hours of unpaid labor that women tend to take on over men. And don't forget that women of color and women with disabilities generally feel the effects of this inequality even more.

    But when women invest, we're taking steps toward building wealth and bridging the gap. So I talked with Shinobu Hindert, author of Investing Is Your Superpower, to get her take on why investing is a little bit different for women and what we can do about it.

    I love Hindert's book because, first of all, she really knows her shit. She's a Certified Financial Planner who worked as a financial advisor at Smith Barney and Fidelity Investments before starting her own company. If that sounds kind of intimidating, don't worry — her book reads more like notes from your smart friend than a jargon-heavy finance textbook (thank goodness). If you're super curious about investing or just want to expand your personal finance knowledge, it's definitely worth a read.

    Here are seven things that women especially need to know about investing:

    1. If you're saving without investing, you may actually be losing money.

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    On average, women live longer than men and get paid less, so when it comes to saving for our futures, we're kind of starting from behind. Plus, the average interest you can earn on a savings account in the US right now is a measly 0.06% — compare that to inflation rates (generally around 2% a year), and it's a recipe for a very big yikes. "It's not like you're going to open your statement and see negative $10 for inflation, but it's happening day to day," Hindert says. Though investing does come with risk, if you do it strategically it can help you beat inflation. Your savings account could never.

    2. And you don't have to wait until *all* your debt is paid off to start investing.

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    You might have heard that you should wait until you've paid off aaaaaall of your debt before you start investing, but Hindert disagrees. "If you do all this hard work to budget and pay off your debt and it takes you five years, seven years, and then you turn around and look at your accounts and you're like, I don't have anything to show for it... It's this self-defeating circle that you're going into of like, 'I have debt,' and when it's gone, it's like, 'Now I have no money.'" 

    Instead, she recommends tackling high-interest debt first, like credit card debt for example, while continuing to make minimum payments on lower-interest debt like federal student loans. Once your most expensive debt is gone and you have some savings in an emergency fund, Hindert says you're in a great place to start investing. That way, you can start growing your money sooner rather than later. Even if you start investing with a small amount, over time it can really add up. And as Hindert puts it, "Time is the most valuable asset you have when it comes to investing."

    3. On average, women who invest actually get better results than men. That's why Hindert calls it our superpower.

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    You might think of investing as a man's game ('cause historically it has been). But researchers have found that when women get into the market, we actually tend to get better results. There are a lot of reasons for this, but Hindert points to our tendency to hold investments for the long term as opposed to making more frequent trades like men often do. "I think for a lot of women, they're not looking to turn a profit tomorrow. Instead, it's like how do we make investing a longer strategy as part of my life." 

    4. And the skills that you're already using at work and at home are the exact same skills you'll rely on as an investor.

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    Hindert urges women not to discount our abilities as investors, saying that the organization, planning, and research skills we use for everything from nailing work projects to packing for a day at the beach are the exact same skills we need to be solid investors. "Celebrate what you're already good at, rather than looking at the world of investing to pinpoint, well I don't know how to do that; I don't know what that means; I'm not good at that." Your skills can definitely transfer to investing, but first you have to have confidence in your ability to learn the basics.

    5. Many factors keep women out of the market, including patronizing behavior from men. But we can avoid that issue by working with female advisors and planners.

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    "The language and the culture of going into a financial office has not traditionally been female friendly," Hindert says. And some finance professionals unfortunately can act in really sexist ways. "A lot of times, they're talking to women as if it's not their money...like it's your husband's money or your parents'." My blood boils just *thinking* about being treated this way, but the good news is we don't have to take it. As women make more money (and even out-earn our partners), there are also more women in the financial industry who we can turn to for actual advice without a side of condescension. Yes, please.

    6. There is a huuuge difference between growing your money in the long term and day-trading meme stocks.

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    Cryptocurrencies and meme stocks are hot topics right now, but Hindert says that those kinds of "investments" are really more like gambling. Instead of getting caught up in trends, she urges women to focus on finding a process that works for them. "If you have a repeatable process for earning money, you're growing your money, and it's sustainable. If you don't have a repeatable process, awesome if you make money, but don't mislead yourself to think that you can do that again," she says. 

    Before you start sweating it, know that your process doesn't have to be super complicated. For example, I have a Roth IRA through Acorns. I make an automatic contribution every week and so far, I've made about 11% in returns. I opened the account a few years ago with a $5 deposit, and I can change or pause my contributions when my income goes up or down. It's a whole lot easier than I previously thought investing would be, and it's working for me. There are so many easy ways to start investing these days that the chances are good you can find something that works for you too.

    7. Setting regular money dates with a friend or partner can be a great way to stay on track with your goals.

    At the end of the day, Hindert wants women to see how our money and our lives are really intertwined. "Know that every life goal you have is actually a financial goal," she says.

    So if instead of fearing our finances we can look at our money as a tool for building the lives we want, that's a huge step in the right direction. 

    Are you investing yet? Share why or why not in the comments, and check out the rest of our personal finance posts for more stories about life and money.

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