4 Investing Mistakes That Cost Women Money — And What To Do Instead – Forbes

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The fear of losing money is a prime reason women don’t invest more.
Does investing your hard-earned money into the stock market make you cringe? You are not alone. A TIAA Institute and Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center study found that 49% of men reported feeling comfortable making investment decisions compared to only 34% of women.
When I polled my most recent investing class on that question, the top reason learners cited was feeling afraid to lose money.
Here are four common financial mistakes I’ve seen many women make while building investments. It was an attempt to conserve cash, but in reality, those moves can cost you more money in the long run.
According to an October 2023 study of women by Fidelity, 27% don’t invest for retirement because they don’t feel like they make enough money. You may relate to this challenge (even if you are making a six-figure salary) if your money is scattered across various accounts and obligations. This lack of financial organization can be overwhelming, contributing to the feeling that there’s no money left to invest.
Rather than have multiple investing accounts, I recommend that women pick a particular type of investing account and focus on maximizing annual contributions up to the IRS limit before moving onto the next account. You should prioritize retirement accounts over taxable accounts.
In 2024, employees can contribute up to $23,000 into their 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans or the Thrift Savings Plan for federal employees. Individuals can contribute up to $7,000 in an individual retirement account, and those older than age 50 can contribute even more.
By prioritizing retirement accounts, you not only potentially save thousands of dollars in unnecessary taxes. You also build the habit of long-term investing versus the temptation to day-trade in a brokerage account.
Understanding both your net worth and self-worth is pivotal for making informed investment decisions. A learner recently asked me about the best place to invest, but when I asked the person about their net worth, they did not know that number. Incomplete information can lead to poor decision-making, and knowing your net worth is critical to understanding how much risk you can afford to take in investing decisions.
A person with $1 million in net worth has a different set of investment options than a person with $100,000 in net worth. More importantly, many women are not aware of what it takes to become an accredited investor, even when they’ve already met the criteria — losing out on investment opportunities that are higher risk, but also higher reward, and not available to the general public.
Before you make any investing decision in 2024, I recommend keeping track of your net worth in an automated software tool. Review your net worth each month to learn how much you can truly afford to invest.
Even though I personally crossed the eligibility and became an accredited investor, I often find myself playing it safe, fearing change, and avoiding risks. I recently introduced this concept of playing to win instead of playing to not lose. That might sound like the same thing, but symptoms of playing to not lose look like this:

With interest rates staying relatively high compared to past years, if you’re not emotionally ready to invest, you can still earn low-risk returns in savings vehicles such as:

This year provides a unique opportunity for women to be rewarded for saving — especially if investing feels too risky right now.
Women managing numerous roles and responsibilities at home and at work confide in me that analysis paralysis is a challenge to investing. The need to acknowledge the overwhelming number of daily decisions women face and the impact this has on financial choices is severely underestimated. Emotional well-being is also often ignored by traditional financial advice that focuses on the math alone.
You don’t need to wait until you’re 100% confident in making an investment decision. There is really no investment that is 100% guaranteed to make money, especially not in the short term. But the longer you stay invested, the higher your odds of making money.
If you feel stuck about taking action, try dollar cost averaging every month for the next year and don’t pressure yourself to stick to it for the rest of your life. This concept simply means that instead of purchasing shares at a single price point, you buy them in smaller amounts at regular intervals, regardless of price.
For example, you can choose to buy $100 worth of stock on the first of every month and just let it sit for all of 2024. The value in dollar cost averaging is it trains you to take action and turn investing into a habit instead of an intellectual and emotional exercise.
I share these mistakes with you because I’ve personally made each of them, and I was still able to invest enough to retire early. Accepting that you’ll make mistakes is part of the investment journey, and learning to move past them can make a difference of thousands of dollars in your nest egg for the future.

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