New Yorkers are again getting their W-2s in order to file their 1040s. Some also use this time to take a hard look at their bank accounts, spending and saving.

Irene Berner, a certified financial planner, works with specific clients to empower and educate women. She’s been doing the work for about 40 years.

“Women, I think, need financial advisors a lot more, certainly, older ones, baby boomers,” she said. “We were not raised to be financially responsible. Money was not talked about, investments were not talked about. All the problems that most women encounter, I’ve lived through them.”

What You Need To Know

  • The Milken Institute says financial literacy is higher among men than women, and there's a gap along racial and socioeconomic lines

  • Irene Berner, a certified financial planner of 40 years, works mainly with female clients to empower them to take control of their financial wellness

  • Berner believes financial literacy should be taught to N.Y. students as early as the first grade

  • A bill being considered in N.Y. would require high school seniors to take financial literacy, and pass, in order to graduate

It's not just older women. Some of her clients are in their 30s and 40s. Her biggest takeaway for women, having done this work for so long: “Pay attention, learn, take control over your financial life so you have control over your life. Period.”

Berner is preaching for good reason.

Research by a nonpartisan economic think-tank, the Milken Institute, says even though financial literacy as a topic has gained more attention over the decades, there is a gap along racial, socioeconomic and gender lines.

Financial literacy is higher among men than women.

“It saddens me because I don’t understand why in this day and age, with all the technology, with all the awareness, with all the communication and social media, why that has not improved,” she said.

She uses educational tools like a financial health assessment with her clients to discuss their short and long-term financial goals and budgeting.

“But that’s a starting point, and it’s a journey. And it’s a process,” she said.

Berner believes to empower the next generation of women, they need to start their financial wellness journey from a young age.

“The financial education should start even as early as the first grade,” Berner said. “And every year, they need to teach children about the different aspects of money, the financial world, saving, paying bills, just how to survive in this world.”

Some New York high schools offer financial literacy courses, but it’s not mandatory. There is a bill being considered by New York state lawmakers that would require high school seniors to take financial literacy, and pass, in order to graduate.