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Personal financial education is among Utah State Treasurer David Damschen's top priorities. As chair of the Utah Council on Financial and Economic Education, he and his team have been exploring ways to increase the financial capability of Utahns.

Utilizing the input of several important community partners, the treasury team focused on one demographic whose financial education hasn’t always been tended to: the women of Utah.

“Women face some unique financial situations. We live longer than men and are more likely to outlive our assets. We are also more likely to take on important, unpaid caretaker responsibilities, teach our children about money and help elderly or disabled loved ones manage their finances,” Brittany Griffin, public information officer at the Utah Office of State Treasurer, said. “Additionally, women are playing an increasing role in the workforce and market,” Griffin continued.

The upcoming conference tackles a wealth of issues. With sessions like “Discussing Finances as a Couple’” and “Fundamentals of Investing” the event aims to give women at all stages of life and in a range of financial situations more skills and knowledge to improve their personal finances.

“When we approached our speakers and sponsors about organizing a conference focused on womens financial empowerment, they were very enthusiastic about the idea and expressed that this kind of event is very needed and can really benefit the women in our state,” Griffin said.

From grappling with student debt to retirement planning, the “Women in the Money Conference” on April 22 at Salt Lake’s Sheraton Hotel features expert speakers from top enterprises in Utah and provides potentially life changing information.

Learn skills like salary negotiation and money management

For both young women entering the workforce and those that have worked for years, understanding how to negotiate fair hourly wages or a salary can make a significant difference in lifetime earnings and financial security.

For perspective, say two similar 22-year-old candidates start at a company and one negotiates a $5,000 higher salary than the other. After a 1% raise each year and a 4% raise every three years, by the time they've reached retirement at 67, the difference between the two candidates’ annual salaries will be over $50,000 — with a total net difference in wealth accumulation a staggering one million dollars, according to calculations by Business Insider.

With women increasingly taking on the role of breadwinner, the ability to negotiate fair salaries and manage their money has a big impact on Utah families in total.

“Two-thirds of household breadwinners and co-breadwinners are women and 89 percent of financial decisions are made by women,” Griffin said. “It makes economic sense to provide women with the skills and resources to make the best financial decisions possible.”

When women ask for what they’re worth in salary negotiations and establish good budgeting habits, the difference in the wealth they accumulate over decades can be staggering.

Understand how to get on top of debt

A known financial issue for millennials is the student debt crisis, but most people don’t know that women are disproportionately affected by student debt of all types.

As of the middle of 2018, women hold nearly two-thirds of the outstanding student debt in the United States — almost $900 billion, according to the American Association of University Women.

But student loan debt isn’t the only debt subject tackled at the conference. One session discusses alternatives to bankruptcy and how to save personal finances after a life crisis.

Talk about women’s finance in the realm of the family

It’s no secret that money is often the cause of relationship tension and even dissolution, whether the couple is newly-wed or approaching retirement.

“Having the skills to build a strong financial foundation for our families is important for married women and those who are considering marriage or a long-term relationship,” said Griffin. “In addition to workshops that teach important personal finance skills, we have organized sessions to help navigate the different roles women play in their families and how to discuss finances as a couple.”

Women are also often the primary caregiver of children, so when they learn how to be financially savvy, they are likely to pass that knowledge on to the next generation.

Understand women-specific retirement issues

Women often outlive their spouses. The median age women are widowed is just 59 years, according to the US Census Bureau, which leaves many years women need to worry about their finances without their partner’s support.

“Women are less likely to receive a pension than men and those who do receive a pension get only half as much as the average man. Locally, Social Security is the only source of retirement income for 38 percent of retired Utah women,” said Griffin.

With specific workshops on the basics of Social Security and “What you need to have in place before the unspeakable,” the conference teaches about preparing your bank account and retirement accounts for this all-too-common situation.

Grab a seat before the conference fills up

The Women in the Money Conference is April 22 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Hotel in Salt Lake City. The last day to register is April 16. To take advantage of the opportunity to learn from Utah financial experts, improve your investing and negotiating savvy and increase your knowledge of all things related to personal finance, reserve your spot today for the “Women in the Money Conference.”