Up until now, I have been intimidated by finance. This may be because I wasn’t sure what finance actually means for me in a practical sense or how it affects my daily life, especially when I’m struggling to make ends meet and to save even a little from each paycheck.

I suspect that many women are intimidated by the term “financial planning” because we are unsure what a financial plan entails or how to approach it. It may be tempting to avoid a plan and cling to the basics that are familiar to us: checking account, savings, and credit cards.

However, I am realizing more and more how ridiculous this attitude is. After all, I am a well-educated working woman. We contribute to the market every day—making money, spending money, paying our taxes and bills—so we have as much right to participate in the world of finance as anyone else, and we should have the confidence to benefit from the market.

I thought that if I didn’t “know what I was doing,” then investing would be like gambling, and I work too hard to gamble my money. It turns out that financial planning is not nearly as complicated or daunting as I had feared. Armed with a little knowledge, a simple strategy, and confidence, you can take control of your finances, giving you the power to take charge of your own future.

You can take action now with one of these small steps:

  1. Keep track of your spending over the next two weeks to get a realistic idea of where your money is going and where you might be able to save.
  2. Sign up for mint.com, a free online money manager.
  3. Do some simple reading on women’s finance to ground yourself and gain confidence. I recommend On My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girl’s Guide to Personal Finance by Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar, DailyWorth, Women & Co, LearnVest, or our blog, GoGirl Finance.

My favorite advice from On My Own Two Feet is: “You invest to make sure your money works as hard for you as you did for it.” It is time to abandon all fear of finance and adopt this attitude instead. In my series on Demystifying Financial Planning, I will guide you through some of the simple steps toward investing in a solid financial future.

In my next post, I will discuss why it is crucial to have a financial plan beyond a savings account and how inflation can impact your finances and your future. As I embark on this series, I would love to know what questions you have about financial planning, especially what aspects you find most challenging or overwhelming. I also urge you to share your own financial wisdom and experience!