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Executive Education

Why it’s time to invest in yourself

Helen Baker
Helen Baker

With International Women’s Day and the theme of #EachforEqual on the horizon we can look back at how far we have come as women.  From the right to vote, to the right to run a company or be whatever we want. Riding on the back off the #metoo movement and the #futureisfemale, there’s no better time to be a woman.

However, for many women that often feels like we have to be on top of everything, which is not realistic either.  Whilst many of us will have started the year with the resolutions of losing weight, spending less/saving more money and getting fitter, if psychology studies play out historically, those resolutions are now fish and chip wrapping.  My recommendation for making the most of being a woman this International Women’s Day and being on your own two feet, is likely to surprise you.

After chatting with women all my life and being an adviser to women for over a decade, I know that women are hard-wired for security. We need clarity, control, certainty and confidence to stand on our own two feet financially. With that in mind, I suggest thinking differently about money and think about ‘investing in yourself’. While this can mean different things to different people, it recognises that you are your greatest asset. What does invest in yourself look like? Let’s explore a few options.

Invest in learning

This IWD, make the decision to study something that will enhance you, professionally or personally.  If you’re dreaming of setting up your own business one day, make time now to learn a skill you may need. If your industry is changing, make the effort to stay a step ahead educationally. (As an example, I’m among the 1% of Australian financial planners with a master’s degree in this specific field).  It’s okay to learn something ‘just for fun’ too. While a hobby can be a great stress-reliever, it could also turn into a fulfilling, lucrative side-business!

Prioritise your downtime

Women are known for putting others’ needs ahead of our own. This can often be at the expense of our own needs. According to Beyond Blue, one in six Australian women will experience depression and one in three women will experience anxiety in their lifetime. You don’t just deserve time out: you need it for physical and mental health. Factor in time with ‘your tribe’ or alone, be it doing craft or reading a book, walking the dog, doing a yoga class, a dance class or playing sport. Allocate funds in your spending and investment plan for an annual holiday too. Without health, you can forget about your wealth.

Helen Baker
Helen Baker

Check your financial foundations

Whilst I’m all for investing, I recommend we secure your five critical elements to create strong foundations for standing on your own two feet financially: a spending and investment plan, emergency fund, insurances, superannuation and estate planning, then what we build on top shouldn’t fall down. In more than a decade of working with clients, I have never met one who had all five boxes ticked and had them working at their optimal best. Make an appointment with a financial planner to check your five’s “health” and with those correct how you can start to build other wealth.

Australian women are less likely to have Wills and less likely to have adequate personal insurances. Why? Typically because we undervalue ourselves and are time poor. While the gender pay gap overall is slowly narrowing, men still take home an average $25,679 a year than women. That makes it all the more important to get your finances working harder for you.

Slow and steady

Making your money work harder doesn’t mean being reckless. Those who look for quick wins are speculators, not investors. In line with women seeking certainty and confidence, as well as control and clarity, investors know that time is their friend for with it, they can ride out market volatility and expect slow, steady growth.  I see investing like a journey: it starts with a steady step forward.

Make this International Women’s Day the day you make at least one change that takes you to the next step on your journey to the future you desire – and celebrates YOU!  Whilst we don’t know the theme for 2021, this time, next year, will be you be looking at your reflection thinking “WOW, Iook how far I’ve come” or “WOAH, where did that year go”? I hope, for you, it’s a WOW response.  Happy International Women’s Day.


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Helen Baker
Helen Baker is the founder of On Your Own Two Feet, a licensed financial adviser based in Brisbane, Australia. Author of two books: On Your Own Two Feet – Steady Steps to Women’s Financial Independence and On Your Own Two Feet Divorce – Your Survive and Thrive Financial Guide. Proceeds from the books’ sales are donated to charities supporting disadvantaged women. Helen is among the 1% of financial planners who holds a master’s degree in the field. Helen Baker is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow her on LinkedIn.