I’ve recently discovered a site, LearnVest, which is geared towards helping women improve their personal finances. LearnVest offers a variety of tools, from daily email tips to online tracking of your budgets and personal goals. Their budgeting tool is really attractive and easy to use. One of the best features of the site is that they offer useful checklists for step-by-step, manageable ways to make a personal finance goal and reach it. Awesome.
According to LearnVest’s info below, I am not alone in this quest to try to figure out and manage my finances better. It’s a life-long journey that you have to commit to. But there are plenty of tools that can help nowadays!
Women have come a long way financially over the last three decades. Women today make up half of the professional work force and are found to buy or influence 80% of all consumer purchases in the United States yet they continue to lag behind men when it comes to managing their personal finances. According to a 2006 Prudential financial poll, 80% of women say that they plan to depend on Social Security to support them in their golden years and 38% of women 30-55 years old are worried they will live at or near the poverty level because they cannot adequately save for retirement. So even today–despite coming so far in many ways–too many women are still ignoring their finances. LearnVest provides a solution that is relevant and timely – it is something women need.
Saving for retirement is not the only solution that will allow people to retire, and social security may not be an option at all for someone like me, ‘retiring’ in 30 years when all the baby boomers have practically cleaned out the social security funds. Retirement is a larger issue because of the culture of our society, and the large debt that our entire society and economic structure has created over the past 100 years. We have to own our own finances, but some people, especially those later in life, need responsibility from their employers, from the government, and from society as a whole to develop new, more efficient, programs that take better care of our elderly and do not separate the wealth and class system even further than they do today. For instance, even with me aggressively saving for retirement, which I unfortunately cannot do right now, the online tools that I have used suggest that I will never reach the goals that I want to retire and live at a ‘comfort’ level at which I live today.
One of the goals check lists that I tried out was a little to simple for me at this stage, but I wish I would have had it a year ago when I was trying to tackle all of this “on my own!” Its important to note that not all of thier advice or ‘to-do’ lists are 100% fitting for you or your lifestyle. For instance, the “I’m Ready to Tackle My Debt” checklist has “Cancel a Credit Card You Don’t Use” as the 8th step. I had thought this would be the financially responsible thing to do also, but after much research and actual experience, I realized that your credit score actually takes a hit when you cancel a credit card. AND, you do absolutely should NEVER cancel a credit card that you have had a long time, because the length of time your card has been open helps your score. So, before following any financial advice, even a step by step program, I recommend that you do your own research and make sure its the right step for you. Review your credit score every year by using free tools or the free site where you can actual get a free copy of the whole report.
(UPDATE: LearnVest informed me that they do have a warning for you about the impact to your credit score when you decide to complete this step)
Overall, the LearnVest site has a lot of quick, getting started options for those that don’t know where to begin with topics from having a baby to investing. For someone like me, who has already spent a lot of time learning this stuff the last year, the site was a little less useful. And of course, the stuff I really wanted to know, like how to be a more educated investor, was only offered as a “premium” service. At less than $10, it could definitely be worth the investment though, hard to say unless I try. And I realize they have to make their money somehow by offering such a great set of online tools.
In general, this site is a very attractive, user-friendly site that offers a lot of tools for you to improve your Financial IQ. Give it a try: LearnVest.com.