Cary Carbonaro, CFP® MBA, is an award-winning, nationally-known personal finance expert, the managing director of United Capital, a dynamic keynote speaker, a CFP ambassador, and the author of the best-selling Money Queen Guide. We had a chance to chat with Cary about financial literacy challenges that women face and how to overcome them.

Tell us a bit about your background. Why did you choose to focus your financial expertise on the area of personal finance?

It is my passion. Financial literacy is not taught anywhere, yet it’s used daily.

There seems to be a rise in the number of certified financial planners (CFPs) in the U.S. when compared to years past. Why do you think that’s the case?

The CFP designation is the gold standard for practitioners providing financial planning. There are 76,000 of them in the USA, though only 23% of them are women. The CFP is also the most recognized designation by the consumer.

Generally speaking, how do women approach money and personal finance differently than their male counterparts?

They are less likely to be financially literate. Other than paying the bills, they expect someone else to take care of money for them.

Finish this sentence: “The most common money mistake that women tend to make is…”

…hold on to their cash, and not invest long-term money in the stock market.

Briefly discuss how people’s financial goals and needs change as they grow older.

All stages of life come with different needs and challenges. For example, you will not need disability insurance when you retire. You don’t think about paying for long-term care in your 30s. There is a difference from when you are accumulating assets and spending down assets.

Do you have any suggestions for entrepreneurial women about how they can safeguard their finances when starting their own businesses?

Always be on a budget (which is not a four-letter word like diet). It is so important to know your numbers in your personal life and your business, and not to overspend in either. Always ask yourself, “What is the return on investment (ROI?)”

Also, have lots of cash on hand so you don’t have to finance or borrow money, which is always more difficult. When I started my business, I had five years’ worth of living expenses which funded my lean first years of business.

When should women begin thinking about estate planning, and what initial steps should they take to protect their individual assets?

As soon as they have assets, they should have beneficiaries on everything. Estate planning gets more complicated the more assets you have.

Based on the increasing number of women obtaining college degrees, starting their own companies, and advancing into (high-paying) executive jobs, what do you think the main financial challenges will be for women over the next couple of decades?

We have many challenges. We are not in the workforce as long as men due to child-rearing and caregiving. We live longer, and we are more conservative in our investing. Because of these challenges, the most important thing we can do is to be financially literate in order to combat all of them.

Cary Carbonaro is a Managing Director with United Capital Financial Life Management. The opinions expressed in this interview are her own and not necessarily those of United Capital Financial Life Management.

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