01/11/2013 12:05 EST | Updated 03/13/2013 05:12 EDT

Busting Three Myths of Financial Planning

Many of us hate organizing our financial lives but love dreaming about our futures. That might be part of the reason that only a third of women have a financial plan. It comes down to the myths we have built up about financial planning.

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Many of us hate organizing our financial lives but love dreaming about our futures. Our dreams are the fun part but planning to get there is the stuff of discipline and denial -- or so we believe. That might be part of the reason that only a third of women have a financial plan, as found by a TD Investor's Poll. As Credit Canada Debt Solutions discovered, one-third of Canadians consider winning the lottery one of our financial strategies to achieving their goals. These two statistics tell us that those who haven't planned are headed for their own fiscal cliff.

Why is it that we do this? It can't be a lack of awareness; everywhere we turn there is advertising and information about the importance of financial planning. If you are a boomer, you are certainly aware of this as your retirement years are either golden or dark, depending on how you planned for them. Lack of financial knowledge seems to be an excuse used by many but we are awash in financial tools, educational material, seminars, and workshops, most of them free. All of our financial institutions have myriad financial material available to the public, at no charge. All of it is accessible and educational.

It comes down to the myths we have built up about financial planning. Sandy Cimoroni, President of TD Mutual Funds, has been involved in the investing world for a long time. In her experience, women don't pay enough attention to managing their money due to three myths.

1. The Myth of Time

Women are time-starved and fitting in more and more activities into a limited timeframe. While we know that men are busy too, women are still doing the second shift. So, when they think about managing their money, the burden seems to be too great. The myth buster is that managing your money doesn't take that long. As Sandy Cimoroni of TD points out: "We can't address women's time commitments but we can dispel the myth that it takes all of your time. There is an upfront time commitment in identifying your key life goals and devising a financial plan to help you achieve them. But once you've completed those two critical steps, it's really all about assessing how you're progressing against your plan and 'tweaking' your plan as necessary." In the time it takes for you to get your hair done, you could have your plan done. That's not so bad, is it?

2. The Myth of Knowledge

The financial world can be pretty intimidating for many women. We are bombarded with all that lingo like hedge funds, puts, calls, derivatives, return on equity -- it's enough to give you a headache. Believing it's too hard gives you an excuse to avoid managing your money. It doesn't have to be that way -- you're only limited by your belief system. The best advice is to begin the journey by arming yourself with financial knowledge. Consider participating in a seminar or workshop about money or investing, read one of the many books aimed at women and money like the excellent book, Emotional Currency, or work directly with an expert who can actively help you on your journey. Learning about your money can be exciting and interesting. You may soon find that it all boils down to a few golden rules -- think long term, diversify your investments, manage your spending and balance risk and reward.

3. The Myth of Wealth

I'm not rich enough and so investing doesn't apply to me. Do you have savings? Then you're rich enough. We all have to start somewhere and unless you want to plop your money into an interest-free chequing account, you need to invest. By investing your money you take advantage of compound interest so that the interest on your investment adds to your principal. Over time, your investment grows. There are no minimums in investing; you just need to find the right investment for you. And don't rule out working with an advisor. He or she can help you to achieve a more positive outcome due to the focus and discipline you'll find in an advisory relationship. As TD learned in their 2012 poll, 77 per cent of Canadians want enough money to retire comfortably. That can only happen if you start investing -- early.

There is no good reason for you to procrastinate. Look in the mirror and face your resistance. See yourself as a strong, capable and smart woman, one who knows where she's going and wants to make her own decision about how to get there. Nobody cares as much about your dreams and your future as you do. And nobody can get you to your finish line but you. It's time you took charge of your financial life. You're worth it.

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