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Empowering Women To Take Control of Their Retirement with Stephanie McCullough

About Stephanie

Stephanie founded Sofia Financial in 2011 after 14 years as a financial advisor, with the goal to empower women to make wise financial decisions and reduce their money stress. In her early years she encountered too many women who found finances and investing so intimidating that they either outsourced money decisions to a man in their lives (sometimes with disastrous consequences), or relied on “professionals” who too often focused more on their own paycheck than providing true education and guidance. Financial planning plays into Stephanie’s love of hearing people’s stories, and understanding and explaining complex topics clearly. She is passionate about helping more women find and succeed on this career path.


Stephanie McCullough, founder of Sophia Financial and host of the Take Back Retirement podcast, discusses the challenges women face when planning for retirement. She shares her journey of entering the financial industry and focusing on helping women with their retirement planning. Stephanie emphasizes the importance of empowering women to take control of their finances and make informed decisions. She highlights the unique challenges women face in retirement, such as the dominance of the male spouse in financial decisions and the need for women to take the reins after divorce or the death of a spouse. Stephanie encourages open conversations and non-judgmental support to help women navigate these challenges and create a fulfilling retirement.

In this conversation, Stephanie and I discuss the challenges women face in the financial planning industry and how they can take control of their retirement. We explore the dominance of men in financial meetings, the importance of meaningful money conversations, and the need for both spouses to be involved in financial planning. They also discuss the impact of social connections on retirement happiness and how women can build and maintain strong social networks. The conversation concludes with advice for women to pay attention to their feelings around money and find a money buddy to share and learn together.


  • Women often face unique challenges when planning for retirement, such as the dominance of the male spouse in financial decisions.

  • Divorce and the death of a spouse can significantly impact a woman's retirement plans and financial decisions.

  • Open conversations and non-judgmental support are crucial in helping women navigate these challenges and make informed decisions.

  • Empowering women to take control of their finances and plan for retirement can lead to a more fulfilling and secure future. Women often face challenges in the financial planning industry, with men dominating meetings and focusing on investments rather than meaningful money conversations.

  • Both spouses should be involved in financial planning to ensure transparency and avoid financial abuse.

  • Social connections and networks are crucial for retirement happiness, and women are often better at building and maintaining these connections.

  • Women should pay attention to their feelings around money and find a money buddy to share and learn together.

  • Women can take control of their retirement by being intentional, exploring different opportunities, and finding their own identity and purpose.

Sound Bites

"There's got to be a way to have a more meaningful conversation with women."

"Retirement is the opportunity to figure out exactly what you want to do with your time and go do it."

"Open up conversations about retirement between couples to ensure both partners' needs and desires are considered."

"There's often a dominance about... the man has done this and they often kind of... dragged them along to the meeting and... they open up the meeting and they're dominant in it."

"How can we have a different money conversation? How can we have something that's actually meaningful and relatable? How can we make this money actually interesting?"

"A lot of women have that impression because that's the experience they've had in the financial advisor offices."


00:00 Introduction and Stephanie's Journey

06:20 Why Focus on Women Planning for Retirement

10:25 Challenges Women Face in Retirement

16:26 Navigating Retirement After Divorce

28:27 The Impact of Grief on Retirement Plans

30:52 The Importance of Meaningful Money Conversations

35:12 Building and Maintaining Social Connections

44:08 Paying Attention to Feelings Around Money

51:48 Taking Control of Retirement


Take Back Retirement Podcast

Sofia Financial

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