Many women today are looking for ‘financial peace,’ expert says. Here’s how they can achieve it

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Many women today are looking for “financial peace,” said Jean Chatzky, founder and CEO of HerMoney.

What that means: “It looks like being able to meet my obligations today, while being able to save for tomorrow,” said Chatzky, speaking at CNBC’s Women & Wealth event on Tuesday.

“And having some degree of confidence that … my money is going to last as long as I do.”

Here’s how you can achieve that, Chatzky and other experts say.

Debt and savings: ‘Work it from both ends’

Establishing financial security requires tackling debt and saving at the same time, Chatzky said.

“You have to work it from both ends, this problem,” she said.

“There is no doubt that debt is a huge financial stressor,” she said. “When we look at the things that make us most unhappy when it comes to our money, debt rises to the top of the list.”

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However, women need to juggle paying down their debt with preparing for their future, Chatzky said.

It’s essential not to miss out on the important time you still have in “forging ahead, grabbing those 401(k) matching dollars, building emergency cushions and doing the things that allow us to stay afloat once we get there,” she said.

Even if saving thousands of dollars a year isn’t currently feasible, it’s best to start early with what you can salt away, said Winnie Sun, the co-founder and managing director of Irvine, California-based Sun Group Wealth Partners. Sun is also a member of the CNBC Financial Advisor Council.

“This is a great year to get started,” Sun said. “Understand how much you’re saving for your future and whether it’s enough, or if the portfolios you’ve invested in still align with your financial situation.”

Don’t shy away from all risk

There’s no question women struggle with taking investment risks, Chatzky said. “We are very focused on stability, and security, money in the bank,” she said.

Yet, while savings are key for short-term goals, investments are crucial for long-term ones. Research shows that women are excellent investors, Chatzky said.

“We just have to get ourselves to the party,” she said.

‘Get some advice there’

Women who are looking for help getting started, or who have already achieved a certain level of financial stability or success may want to look for a qualified financial planner for help, Chatzky said.

She shared her tips for finding a trustworthy advisor.

“You want to make sure that they’ve been doing it for a good five years, if not more,” she said. “You want to make sure that they’ve got the [certified financial planner] designation, and you want to make sure that they are somebody that you feel you are able to talk to comfortably.”

If you’re not ready for a financial advisor, Chatzky recommends speaking to someone in your company’s benefits department about your retirement savings.

“Get some advice there,” she said. “Start digging in and asking the questions that you need.”

Due to long-standing societal and institutional biases, there’s a financial literacy gap between men and women, said Cathy Curtis, founder and CEO of Curtis Financial Planning in Oakland, California. When polled, men are more likely than women to correctly answer questions on topics such as borrowing and saving, research finds.

In 2024, women should take the time to boost their financial knowledge, said Curtis, who is also a member of the CNBC FA Council.

It could be a year of major changes.

“The upcoming presidential election and the rapid integration of artificial intelligence into the workplace stand out as developments that could unsettle markets and workplaces,” Curtis said.

“Without a solid understanding of financial principles — for example, that volatility is a normal characteristic of investing in the stock market, women could inadvertently make changes that could hurt their long-term financial health,” she said.

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