Many people deal with financial stress a lot like they deal with their health; that is, they ignore it for as long as possible and hope it works itself out. Even individuals who know what they should do are often unable to overcome the barriers that keep them from taking action.

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Even highly skilled Americans with solid incomes can easily find themselves living from paycheck to paycheck, or worse: slipping over time into debt that seems insurmountable, causing them to put off, perhaps indefinitely, the dream of a secure financial future. A single job layoff or health crisis can trigger this situation. This is a crisis.

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I have had several clients tell me that their previous advisers told them to “just trust me.” I don’t think that is an appropriate response when a client has a question. Your adviser should never dismiss your concerns.

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We must continue to work collectively toward systemic change that addresses the gender pay gap, but every woman must also take individual action to protect her own financial health and that of her family. To women who want to start building a more secure future despite the gender pay gap, I recommend the following steps.

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For most of us, money represents security, so uncertainty related to money can really wreak havoc with our peace of mind. The trick is to find ways to work past the fear and stress, so you can keep moving towards your financial goals.

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