Wise Money Advice From Women Over 50

Alden Wicker
Posted

Today is the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, with celebrations taking place around the world. Debuting in 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, the global day celebrates the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women’s Day is a national holiday (hint, hint, United States).

How far have women come in the U.S. since the early 1900s?

  • In 1900, 19% of working-age women participated in the workforce. In 1950, it was 34%. Today that number is 60%.
  • In 1900, women earned 54% of what men earn. In 1950, women earned 60%. Today that number is 77%.

One message rings loud and clear to us: Financial literacy is not just an option, it’s a privilege and an obligation to ourselves as women, given how far we have come. We have financial options and opportunities our mothers and grandmothers didn’t have. Let’s make the most of them!

We decided to celebrate International Women’s Day by asking women over 50: What would you tell your 20-year-old self about money if you had the chance? The answers were inspiring, humbling, poignant, and above all – wise. They ran the gamut from the importance of savings and retirement to understanding needs vs. wants, but one common theme emerged: not depending on a man to be financially secure.

Here are some of our favorite words of wisdom:

Be Independent

“Do not rely on your husband or father to do your taxes.”
Donna Meister-Simons, 51
Beachwood, OH
(Learn about doing your taxes here.)

“Love yourself first and plan to take care of you. Even if you choose to share your life with someone, make sure that you remain independently, financially secure. Plan for your future without that person because you just never know…’happily ever after’ may not really be forever.”
Lynne DuRant, 50
Aiken, SC

“Make sure you have your own career to bring you income and don’t rely on your husband to totally support you. Also, save some money weekly for the bad times, which everyone encounters.”
Renee Rubin-Ross, 72
Greenlawn, NY

(Learn the basics of savings.)

“I would first emphasize the importance of maintaining good credit, of paying all bills on time. You never know when you may need it…like when your transmission dies somewhere in the middle of Pennsylvania and you’re not only not sure where you are, but you have less than $200 to your name and four hot, hungry, restless children depending on you. Always have a credit card that isn’t maxed out. Always…just in case.

“I would also warn myself about financial independence and how ‘rainy days’ do indeed happen…husbands sometimes leave wives, with $4, no gas in the car, a new baby and no diapers.”
Patricia Carrubba, 54
Fluvanna County, VA

Do It Now, Not Later!

“Good things do not come to those who wait in the area of personal finance. Draw up a budget NOW, even if it’s for how you’re spending your parent’s money.”
Lorraine Johnson, 50
North Carolina

(Get started with LV’s budgeting tool.)

“Even though finances can be scary and daunting, bite the bullet and learn how to ‘do it!’ Be independent and self-reliant. Set goals and follow through! You CAN do it, and will be a stronger, prouder, and more self-assured individual for it.”
Gay Engelbrecht, 52
Durham, NC

(Get started on your financial action plan here.)

“The years go by quickly, and you are never too young to start saving for your retirement, strange as that may sound. Many people of retirement age are surprised to learn that they can’t retire due to lack of savings and planning.”
Willa Schneider, 63
Dix Hills, NY

Value Your Career

“Build a career that pays enough to cover housing and childcare.”
Margy Childs, 53
Charlottesville, VA

“When I was in my 40s, I told women who were just entering the workforce, ‘You work for health insurance.’  I would still say that today – even with the Obama Healthcare coverage.”
Donna Meister-Simons, 51
Beachwood, OH

(Learn about health insurance.)

“Have a career that matters and that you can go back to if/after you have children. NEVER depend on a man or his income to be your sole supporter. They come and go. Women need to have their own careers where they can make their own money and their own checking accounts!”
Laurie Deane, 60
Sarasota, FL
(Use LV’s “I am Starting a New Job” checklist.)

“Choose companies that offer 401(k) plans.”
Donna Meister-Simons, 51
Beachwood, OH

Save!

“Pay into your savings account as if it is a bill owed to yourself. It is.”
Dahna Carrubba, 50
Katy, TX

(Try LV’s Savings Account checklist.)

“Save money. Watch your debt. I don’t think I would tell us to do anything different. [My husband and I] never went into debt, except for the mortgage and payments on the car. We just didn’t buy things we couldn’t afford. Buy what you can afford and what you need, not what you want.”
Emily Johnson, 82
Pasadena, MD
(Learn the basics of saving, and the basics of credit cards.)

“I have found that a great many things I thought I couldn’t live without were not necessary. If I waited two days to make a purchase, I no longer wanted it. And, if I did have the money for that purchase, I could do well by putting the amount I saved into my savings or investment account.”
Leesa Johnson, 60
Edgewater, MD

(Learn the basics of investing.)

Buy Less Stuff

“When you spend your money, you have to make sure you are getting something good for your money. Don’t go out and buy a lot of frivolous stuff.”
Ruth Matthews, 86
Phoenix, AZ

“Statistics show that women are poor shoppers. Women spend lots of money on little things and don’t have the money for big things. Think big by saving small.”
Donna Meister-Simons, 51
Beachwood, OH

“Know the difference between ‘wants’ and ‘needs,’ make purchases for only needs. Live below your means, save all you can. Write down all purchases – it helps cut out extra spending.”
Mary Fogler, 56
Columbus, IN

Read more words of wisdom here.

Inspired to tackled your own finances? Here are some resources to get you started:

LearnVest’s Customized Action Plan
LV Bootcamp Programs
LV Budgeting Tool
Money Calculators
LV Financial Basics
LearnVest Checklists

  • ptonchic

    amazing advice!! :-)

  • ptonchic

    amazing advice!! :-)

  • ptonchic

    amazing advice!! :-)

  • TK

    Love the advise. All you young ones please listen and act. Today not tomorrow.

  • TK

    Love the advise. All you young ones please listen and act. Today not tomorrow.

  • jknjames

    Love it!! Wish I could “hear” more.

  • jknjames

    Love it!! Wish I could “hear” more.

  • Sugarbowl

    Donna Meister-Simons- I really appreciated what you wrote about women spending a lot of small amounts and not saving up for the big ones…i really feel that it sums it up. Thanks. Made me really think. I’m listening.

  • Sugarbowl

    Donna Meister-Simons- I really appreciated what you wrote about women spending a lot of small amounts and not saving up for the big ones…i really feel that it sums it up. Thanks. Made me really think. I’m listening.

  • Sugarbowl

    Donna Meister-Simons- I really appreciated what you wrote about women spending a lot of small amounts and not saving up for the big ones…i really feel that it sums it up. Thanks. Made me really think. I’m listening.

  • AH

    It’s really sad how important financial independence is these days… I completely agree that women need to have their own nest-egg (especially with divorce rates at about 50%)… and I am actually the bigger bread winner in my relationship… but it is somewhat depressing to see that it’s a major life concern :/

  • AH

    It’s really sad how important financial independence is these days… I completely agree that women need to have their own nest-egg (especially with divorce rates at about 50%)… and I am actually the bigger bread winner in my relationship… but it is somewhat depressing to see that it’s a major life concern :/

  • AH

    It’s really sad how important financial independence is these days… I completely agree that women need to have their own nest-egg (especially with divorce rates at about 50%)… and I am actually the bigger bread winner in my relationship… but it is somewhat depressing to see that it’s a major life concern :/

  • Faith

    My mother, who would be 90 this year, told me from the time I was 3 or 4 to never rely on a man for money, and that it was important for a woman to have her own bank account. She set her own example. Even though I have always stuggled with frittering and determining wants vs. needs, I can hear her voice in my head, and it helps. Now, when I look at the high-quality end table or lamp that she bought “herself” with her own income, I smile.

    • J_perry

      Your mom must have not been married really trully married? I am a very proud married woman and mother and I would NEVER tell my daughter to NEVER depend on HER husband to be there for her financially or any other way for that matter(I do teach her self sufficiency as she watches me all the time like a hawk and with answering questions as well).My husband also teaches our son to do things for a woman because that is what any man should do, helping cook, clean, showing her you love her, providing financially(even if she does have her own income), taking her out on dates, being by her side when shes sick(including going to the store for groceries and other things she needs), being her best friend above anything else. I feel that any woman can still remain self sufficient and independant as a stay at home mother and wife. I do see a point for the separate accounts but thats due to “individuality” preferances oppose to “freedom” preferances. My husband constantly tells me that I am the most independant woman he’s ever known in his life. And I dont work outside the home. Its all about women giving their power away it has NOTHING to with marriage or depending on a man. Im with my husband because I NEED him he is my other half and I wouldnt be who I am if he wasnt in my life.And I am not ashamed to say it! Thats the purpose of a marriage to make you a better person;not the reverse. God bless you and yours!

      • Aimeec

        I don’t understand how your can be “the most independant woman he’s ever known in his life. And I dont work outside the home.”  Do you mean you work at home?  How did you get your money from if you do not work?  Unless you have tons of investments and money already prior to your marriage, I don’t understand how you can be independent if you do not work. 

  • Ashley B

    This was JUST what I needed to hear…thank you ladies for sharing your wisdom with me (22 year old soon to be college graduate who is debt free). I needed more support, more direction and the courage to forge ahead in hard times and a new career path..thanks!

  • Ashley B

    This was JUST what I needed to hear…thank you ladies for sharing your wisdom with me (22 year old soon to be college graduate who is debt free). I needed more support, more direction and the courage to forge ahead in hard times and a new career path..thanks!

  • Ashley B

    This was JUST what I needed to hear…thank you ladies for sharing your wisdom with me (22 year old soon to be college graduate who is debt free). I needed more support, more direction and the courage to forge ahead in hard times and a new career path..thanks!

  • Ashley B

    This was JUST what I needed to hear…thank you ladies for sharing your wisdom with me (22 year old soon to be college graduate who is debt free). I needed more support, more direction and the courage to forge ahead in hard times and a new career path..thanks!

  • Ashley B

    This was JUST what I needed to hear…thank you ladies for sharing your wisdom with me (22 year old soon to be college graduate who is debt free). I needed more support, more direction and the courage to forge ahead in hard times and a new career path..thanks!

  • Ashley B

    This was JUST what I needed to hear…thank you ladies for sharing your wisdom with me (22 year old soon to be college graduate who is debt free). I needed more support, more direction and the courage to forge ahead in hard times and a new career path..thanks!

  • Ashley B

    This was JUST what I needed to hear…thank you ladies for sharing your wisdom with me (22 year old soon to be college graduate who is debt free). I needed more support, more direction and the courage to forge ahead in hard times and a new career path..thanks!

  • Ashley B

    This was JUST what I needed to hear…thank you ladies for sharing your wisdom with me (22 year old soon to be college graduate who is debt free). I needed more support, more direction and the courage to forge ahead in hard times and a new career path..thanks!

  • Ashley B

    This was JUST what I needed to hear…thank you ladies for sharing your wisdom with me (22 year old soon to be college graduate who is debt free). I needed more support, more direction and the courage to forge ahead in hard times and a new career path..thanks!

  • Ashley B

    This was JUST what I needed to hear…thank you ladies for sharing your wisdom with me (22 year old soon to be college graduate who is debt free). I needed more support, more direction and the courage to forge ahead in hard times and a new career path..thanks!

  • Ashley B

    This was JUST what I needed to hear…thank you ladies for sharing your wisdom with me (22 year old soon to be college graduate who is debt free). I needed more support, more direction and the courage to forge ahead in hard times and a new career path..thanks!

  • Ashley B

    This was JUST what I needed to hear…thank you ladies for sharing your wisdom with me (22 year old soon to be college graduate who is debt free). I needed more support, more direction and the courage to forge ahead in hard times and a new career path..thanks!

  • Ashley B

    This was JUST what I needed to hear…thank you ladies for sharing your wisdom with me (22 year old soon to be college graduate who is debt free). I needed more support, more direction and the courage to forge ahead in hard times and a new career path..thanks!

  • Ashley B

    This was JUST what I needed to hear…thank you ladies for sharing your wisdom with me (22 year old soon to be college graduate who is debt free). I needed more support, more direction and the courage to forge ahead in hard times and a new career path..thanks!

  • Ashley B

    This was JUST what I needed to hear…thank you ladies for sharing your wisdom with me (22 year old soon to be college graduate who is debt free). I needed more support, more direction and the courage to forge ahead in hard times and a new career path..thanks!

  • Ashley B

    This was JUST what I needed to hear…thank you ladies for sharing your wisdom with me (22 year old soon to be college graduate who is debt free). I needed more support, more direction and the courage to forge ahead in hard times and a new career path..thanks!

  • Ashley B

    This was JUST what I needed to hear…thank you ladies for sharing your wisdom with me (22 year old soon to be college graduate who is debt free). I needed more support, more direction and the courage to forge ahead in hard times and a new career path..thanks!

  • Ashley B

    This was JUST what I needed to hear…thank you ladies for sharing your wisdom with me (22 year old soon to be college graduate who is debt free). I needed more support, more direction and the courage to forge ahead in hard times and a new career path..thanks!

  • Ashley B

    This was JUST what I needed to hear…thank you ladies for sharing your wisdom with me (22 year old soon to be college graduate who is debt free). I needed more support, more direction and the courage to forge ahead in hard times and a new career path..thanks!

  • Ashley B

    This was JUST what I needed to hear…thank you ladies for sharing your wisdom with me (22 year old soon to be college graduate who is debt free). I needed more support, more direction and the courage to forge ahead in hard times and a new career path..thanks!

  • Ashley B

    This was JUST what I needed to hear…thank you ladies for sharing your wisdom with me (22 year old soon to be college graduate who is debt free). I needed more support, more direction and the courage to forge ahead in hard times and a new career path..thanks!

  • Gladys P.

    I agree with all those that said you must be able to take care of yourself financially, no matter if

    married, or whatever rhe relationship. I want to encourage my two greandaughters as they grow

    to be able to support themselves in a career that they can be happy and self sufficient.
    GP

  • Gladys P.

    I agree with all those that said you must be able to take care of yourself financially, no matter if

    married, or whatever rhe relationship. I want to encourage my two greandaughters as they grow

    to be able to support themselves in a career that they can be happy and self sufficient.
    GP

  • Gladys P.

    I agree with all those that said you must be able to take care of yourself financially, no matter if

    married, or whatever rhe relationship. I want to encourage my two greandaughters as they grow

    to be able to support themselves in a career that they can be happy and self sufficient.
    GP

  • CindySue

    That time WILL pass and you will get older. So draw up your budget, fine tune it, which could take you months to learn your spending habits, and save from each paycheck. Have an overall plan for you finances and then break it down into smaller goals. And don’t forget to be proud of yourself for doing so, it will be a great achievement for your future.

  • CindySue

    That time WILL pass and you will get older. So draw up your budget, fine tune it, which could take you months to learn your spending habits, and save from each paycheck. Have an overall plan for you finances and then break it down into smaller goals. And don’t forget to be proud of yourself for doing so, it will be a great achievement for your future.

  • CindySue

    That time WILL pass and you will get older. So draw up your budget, fine tune it, which could take you months to learn your spending habits, and save from each paycheck. Have an overall plan for you finances and then break it down into smaller goals. And don’t forget to be proud of yourself for doing so, it will be a great achievement for your future.

  • Fashionista

    The rug can be pulled out from under you at anytime. So it is wise to make good and grounded career choices, have at least 6 months in savings for a crisis (you could not imagine happening), always know where you are at financially, and the value of judegement on your personal spending habits.

  • Fashionista

    The rug can be pulled out from under you at anytime. So it is wise to make good and grounded career choices, have at least 6 months in savings for a crisis (you could not imagine happening), always know where you are at financially, and the value of judegement on your personal spending habits.

  • Fashionista

    The rug can be pulled out from under you at anytime. So it is wise to make good and grounded career choices, have at least 6 months in savings for a crisis (you could not imagine happening), always know where you are at financially, and the value of judegement on your personal spending habits.

  • J_perry

    I just turned 31 my hubby 34 and we have been together for 14 years to be exact.We have 2 beautiful children. I dont feel any love on this page regarding the sole purpose of a marriage is to “become one” with your spouse if that is not happened you are not married! Your spouse should always be a compliment to who you are as a separate individual in any meaningful relationship/marriage. Money should never be the sole reason for any marriage or divorce for that matter. Money is purely a tool you need to survive in this world and it should be shared between the two. I cant stand it when I hear a married woman say thats “his’ money and this is “my” money! Theres no such thing when you are married! Everything joins together at the heart,soul, body, and mind levels that is the true purpose of marriage! Everything in that couple life becomes “ours” ! I am a very proud and devoted stay at home mother and I enjoy every second of it! My husband is very supportive of my decision to stay at home and Im doing what the Lord wants me to do. I have chosen the healthcare field as my career of choice so whenever I want to work I have that opportunity as well. Its my choice what I want to do with my life and my hubby stands behind ANY decision that I make the same as I would for him. We are 11 months aways from being debt-free which is a car loan and we have no outstanding or any other debts for that matter! We save regularly and donate to charities on a monthly basis. We also do have our own accounts for our own little play money which usually goes to purchasing gifts for eachother as we feel the need. Our children love the second hand stores because they get more for their money! Marriage should NEVER take away from who you are it should make you a better person. Last but not least I do have my own ROTH 401K that I contribute to as well! Just because a woman chooses not to work doesnt mean in any way that she’s less self sufficient then the working woman! I am the most independant woman that my hubby has ever met and he will attest to that! My bumper sticker reads “Every mother is a working woman!” Love it!

  • cookie

    I disagree that the majority of the posts and/or advice is against the “oneness” that should come with marriage. My take away, and something I think every womany should plan for, is the eventuality that the person she choose to spend the rest of her life with may not stick around that entire time because they either leave or die. Every woman should be independant enough that should an unfortunate event occur where she finds herself on her own, she knows how to thrive financially. Too often, women get married and give away all of their independance to their financial health and then have no idea what to do when their spouse dies (which happens quite often seeing as women typically outlive men).

  • Katherene

    @Cookie, I agree with you.  Being married or living with your significant other doesn’t mean you become financial unhealthy.  You should never give up your independence.  Stay Strong, Be Smart and Power 2 U.

  • Maxie Ouyang

    I am a young one (19 years old) and I hear all your great advice :) Thank you so much for taking the time to write them. I love the quotes about independence. That’s exactly what my mother taught me.