The One Money-Habit All Highly Successful Women Follow

The secret to getting rich isn’t living small -- it’s investing wisely. Establishing good money habits (i.e. investing regularly) is key.

The biggest lie ever told is that avocado toast is keeping you from buying a house. It’s not. It’s keeping you well nourished and for that, you should be grateful, not guilty.

The idea that you have to suck all the joy out of your life in order to get rich is fundamentally flawed. Yes, saving money is an unequivocally good idea,  but investing money is an even better idea.

People often complain that good habits are hard to start. Investing, however, is not one of them. Seriously. Ask any successful woman, and she’ll tell you: Investing in your future is a must, and the sooner you start, the better.

So, I bet you’ve heard about the gender equality gap a million times. Likely the gender pay gap, too — where women make $0.77 cents to a man’s dollar. But did you know that there’s another and even larger gap that can cost us women even more over our lifetime? It’s the gender investing gap, and it could be costing you big time. Like, about $100 a day.* 

So, what is the gender investing gap? Simply put, women don’t invest as much as men do. And they don’t invest as early as men do, either. It’s a problem.  Of all the assets women control—they keep a full 71% in cash, according to a survey by BlackRock, whereas men hold 60%. And while keeping your money in savings may feel like zero risk, it also has zero potential to grow as stocks do over time. And even with low inflation, the purchasing power of that cash will decline over time.  In other words, the price of playing it safe with keeping your money in the bank is high.

I know what you’re thinking:  “It’s so complicated. Where do I start?” The answer is different for everyone, and depends on your unique situation. Here’s a rundown:

Start Where You Are.

Investing is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. It can build your wealth . . . not by a little, but by enough to make a real difference in your life,” says Sallie Krawcheck, the former CEO of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and CFO of Citigroup. “If we’re not investing, we’re doing most of the hard work around money (you know, going to work every day, turning in that amazing design, landing the difficult-to-close client, beating our sale projections) . . . but we’re only getting about half the reward.

Need some numbers to make it believable? Here they are:

Suppose you’re making $85,000 a year and putting 20% of your income in the bank, instead of investing it. Wait five years to invest and that just cost you more than $170,000 when it’s time to retire. Wait ten years, and you’re down more than $337,00.*

Crazy, isn’t it? But, it’s the truth.

Click here to create your free invetment plan with Ellevest
PHOTO: Ellevest

Try it now: Be a woman with a plan. Get started with Ellevest in Under 10 Minutes for free. Simply head to the website, tell them about yourself and your life goals in 5 short steps, and they’ll suggest personalized investment portfolios .

Closing the Gender Investing Gap

The financial services industry has traditionally been built by men, for men. Likewise, all the jargon and the sports-like feel to the markets, financial news is very geared toward men; the focus on “outperforming” and “beating the markets” and “picking the winners.” It’s all pretty macho, and it’s made financial planning and investing feel out of reach for so many women.

“I promise you: It’s not us, it’s them. We’ve been held back from engaging financially — and it costs us, big-time,” says Krawcheck who has had first-hand experience holding her own as one of the few female executive leaders on Wall Street. At 23,  at her first job, she would arrive every morning to find a photocopy of male genitalia on her desk. “It was horrible, it was uncomfortable, it was embarrassing, it was humiliating,” Krawcheck tells Style Salute. “But, I couldn’t quit because I didn’t have the money to quit. I was living paycheck to paycheck and I was right out of school and I had a lease to pay.”

Withstanding that embarrassment for years,  Krawcheck went on to have a very successful career on Wall Street, and now,  she is now the founder of Ellevest, the online investment platform tailored specifically to women. “We wanted to make investing as approachable as possible for women.

Part of that means invalidating the myth that women don’t take financial risks. Yes, you may not have the stomach for financial risk. That’s fine, you don’t need one. If you invest your money consistently and conservatively, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect a substantial return over time. It just takes patience, willingness, and basic know-how.

The truth is: the market has delivered, on average, a 9.5% return annually since 1928. If you plop your money in an index fund that mimics the market, you’re practically guaranteed a plump return — especially if you hold tight through day-to-day or month-to-month market fluctuations.  And at Ellevest, they’re not about beating the market — they are all about helping you reach your goals.

Very, very, very few people can time the market well, and even fewer can do it consistently. That’s why Ellevest approaches investing with a goal-based philosophy, not one that is aiming to buy low and sell hight.  The first thing you do when you sign up with Ellevest is you create a customized investment plan — for free — specifically designed to help you reach financial goals like starting your own business, retirement, having kids, buying a home, taking that dream trip, etc.). And, while you might think you need the fortune to invest, companies like Ellevest, allow you to get started with as little as $1.

What happens too often is that we either get lazy or we don’t feel like we know enough to start — and so we don’t invest.  I get that investing can seem intimidating and too much to handle — especially when you’re new to it. You don’t want to do it wrong for fear of losing your hard-earned money.  But the good news is that the gender investing gap can be the easiest one to close.

“And, while you might think you need the fortune to invest, companies like Ellevest, allow you to get started with as little as $1.”

So now that you see that nothing has to hold you back from investing, I’ll walk you through three essential things to know about investing,

Step One: Dream Big; Set Goals.

Set goals for yourself. Every journey starts with a destination. If you don’t know how much money you need to save, you’ll never know how to get there. You don’t need to wait until you have a giant sack of money to invest, either. You can start with as little as $20 — anything is better than nothing. Ellevest, for example, doesn’t require any minimum to open an account.

If you’re not where you should aim, you can get a complimentary financial plan from Ellevest — it takes less than 10 minutes. Plug in a few basic stats about your self and Ellevest will generate a customized investment plan that you can act on immediately or set aside until you’re ready.

What if you don’t have much to invest, should you still bother? Short answer: Yes. Long answer: Hell yes! Wherever you are with saving, get started by getting your complimentary financial plan from Ellevest today —  you literally have nothing to lose.

Wondering how much to invest? Krawcheck advises you invest a flat percentage of your paycheck. She also suggests 50% of your income should be allotted to your needs; 30% to fun; and 20% to future you. More on how to divvy up your paycheck for financial successEllevest has no minimum so you can start investing with as little, or as much as you like.

Click here to create your free invetment plan with Ellevest
PHOTO: Ellevest

Try it nowNew to investing? This can help. You can speak with an expert financial advisor at Ellevest on topics ranging from how to get rid of debt to tips to investing. Plus, start as small as you’d like – there’s no minimum deposit for Ellevest Digital, meaning you can start investing with as little as $5 – just get started.

Step Two: Turn On Cruise Control.

After you figure out what you need to do to achieve your goals, figure out how to automate it. It’s not easy to create new, healthy habits. If you don’t think about it constantly, though, it doesn’t have to be difficult.

You can set up a recurring contribution on Ellevest and change it at any time. There’s no commitment. That said, you can also automate your investments on a handful of other sites (possibly even through your bank). Before you take any plunge, though, make sure the fees are low and that they’re inline with the size of your assets. There’s no sense in paying a $25 annual fee for an investment account that only includes $150.

By and large, financial advisors charge fees of about 1% to 2% of your assets. In the case of Ellevest, however, the fees are just 0.5%. (Ellevest can charge low fees because it uses a lot of low-cost exchange-traded funds.)

Try it now: We’re asking you to focus on your own economic empowerment

Step Three: Do Not Pick at It.

If your money isn’t growing as fast as you like, it’s fine to play with it, depending upon the market, but investing works best when it’s done over decades — not months — and when you don’t micromanage it. Most studies show that financial advisors and actively-managed mutual funds rarely beat the market — a smart, hands-off approach is often more profitable.

Also, make sure your money is properly diversified. If you’re not sure how to do that, there are plenty of algorithm-based tools that can help you sort it out. Remember that as best as you can, keep this money out of sight and out of mind.

Get your complimentary financial plan from Ellevest today — you literally have nothing to lose.

Click here to create your free Investment Plan from Ellevest
PHOTO: Ellevest