How to manage your money ‘like a woman’: an interview with Cary Carbonaro

Fearless Girl Statue Charging Bull Wall Street New York. Photo taken by Anthony Quintano.

Fearless Girl Statue Charging Bull Wall Street New York. Photo taken by Anthony Quintano.

If you don’t work in the world of finance, or you don’t follow business news regularly, you may not have come across her name, but Cary Carbonaro is a force in this industry.

Cary is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional with an MBA in finance, and has over 25 years of experience in financial services. In 2014, she was named an Ambassador for the CFP® Board, and a year later she became author of the #1 Bestseller on Amazon The Money Queen’s Guide.

Besides being listed as #2 on Twitter (just behind Suze Orman) as “The Most Influential Women in Finance on Twitter”, she’s on a very public and professional mission right now to help women reach their financial goals. So, she knows a thing or two.

I don’t want to spoil anything else for you, so let’s get right into the interview!


What makes you so passionate about personal finance and investing?

I *love* it.

I grew up with my dad teaching me all about finances. I was the son that he never had, as well as the oldest daughter, so I learned about finances from age 5 on. I knew everything about personal finance and financial literacy by the time I was 18. 

At 18 years old, I was teaching other people about finances  - I didn’t even know it was a profession that I could do and get paid for! And because the certified financial planner is actually a relatively new profession (it’s only been around about 30 years) it was really new at the time when I went into it. 

That’s why I always knew that this is what I wanted to do, that this is my calling, that this is my purpose in life: I am driven to help people - specifically women - with money and financial literacy.


What are some differences that you see in the way finances are handled by men and by women?

They are different.

Men want to beat the market and women want to have money help them with their goals. Men hire financial planners regularly and women only tend to hire them when they are: in crisis, job loss, death, or divorce. Also, women are more conservative with investing than men and keep more cash.

Women are LESS likely than men to:

  • Plan for their financial future.

  • Negotiate benefits and compensation.

  • Advocate for a promotion and personal accomplishments.

  • Feel comfortable/confident making financial decisions.

  • Have a backup plan.

Compared to their male colleagues, women are MORE likely to:

  • Invest conservatively or not at all.

  • Save less.

  • Make less. Remember the pay wage gap?

  • Live longer.

  • Have shorter careers due to caregiving.

  • Live in poverty during retirement. Bag Lady Syndrome.

  • Rely on social security.


Women are quite likely to be solely responsible for financial decision making at some point in their lives. We need to own our financial futures even more than men and be independent women.
— Cary Carbonaro


How do you encourage women to manage their personal finance better?

By teaching them and educating them.

It’s a *fact* that women live longer - without a single exception, in all countries. So, they need more money than men not less money.

I have the privilege of working with women of all ages. Women in their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties and sixties all face decade-specific challenges and opportunities in order to build a financially thoughtful life for themselves and their families. I talk about some of those challenges and opportunities by individual decade.

But bottom line is:

ALL women should be independant and understand money.


What are the top three questions your female clients ask you again and again?

  1. Will I have enough money or outlive?

  2. Is the stock market safe?

  3. How do I do a budget?


What are some best practices for managing our investments?

I say auto-invest always, rebalance annually, and make sure you have correct asset allocation.

And if you don’t know the investing basics, it’s never too late to learn them!

Source: Investopedia

Source: Investopedia

When it comes to investing, you MUST do it. It starts by using a budget and know what is coming in and what is going out. This is how you can find the money to save and invest.

I suggest automating it. If you have a choice, you will not do it!

Good habit to get into?

Budget, budget, budget! know what's coming and what's going out.

If you know what is coming in and going out, you know what is left over.

First use some leftovers to pay down those credit cards; then use those leftovers for emergency savings and a retirement account.

Have kids? If you're considering college funds for your kids, always put your retirement first. Your children's college education can be financed other ways, but there's no other ways to finance your retirement.


Bad habits to ditch?

Don’t ever carry credit card debt.

Make it your new year's resolution to not overspend and pay off your cards. If you get a tax refund, use it to pay off credit card debt completely!

Get aggressive. Make paying off your cards a priority then treat yourself when they are paid off.


Can you recommend some great, easy-to-read books on investing?

Any of these “Top 10 books to make you rich”, by Daily Worth:


CaryCarbonaro-MiriamBallesteros blog.png

Cary Carbonaro is a Managing Director of United Capital. She received the “2016 Investment News Women to Watch” award and she's frequently sought out for her opinions and is a leading influencer in her profession.  

She also sits on UC’s Advisory Council and Co-Heads the UC Women’s Initiative, and is on the development committee and a benefactor donor to the Center for Financial Planning.