How Women Who've Never Invested Can Get Started

Lack basic knowledge about stocks, bonds and mutual funds? Here's the way to wise up

by Ann C. Logue • Next Avenue

Although grown-ups aren't supposed to believe in fairy tales, many women still cling to one — that their husbands will take care of their money. A recent study by Fidelity Investments found that husbands are the primary retirement financial decision maker for 37 percent of couples, and only 17 percent of couples are confident that either spouse could assume responsibility of their joint finances if necessary.

But women who leave investing decisions wholly to their husbands could be making a serious financial mistake. After all, most women ultimately find themselves on their own, often because they become widowed or divorced.

Financial experts say that women who have never invested or learned the basics of investing should make these essential moves:

Pepper Your Husband With Questions
If you're married, ask your husband about each stock, bond, mutual fund and retirement account you own together — and any he owns separately. Get him to tell you how much each is worth and which brokerage, mutual fund company or employer savings plan holds the investments. If he owns investments separately, check to see whether you are listed as his beneficiary.

Having this information will help you assess your retirement prospects, and it will protect you if you divorce or your husband dies. Brette Sember, author of The Divorce Organizer and Planner, says women also need to know where all the paperwork for these investments is located and have access to it.

Photo courtesy of atm2003/

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