Are you looking for that perfect relationship?
One that provides security, one in which true communication is a priority, and one that even offers a touch of the finer things in life? If so, I suggest you get a little closer to your money! All kidding aside, building a strong and healthy relationship with your finances is one of the best ways you can invest in your future. Ironically, though, it is the one relationship women often make little time for or end up ignoring all together.
When I was growing up, the role of the woman was to raise the children and run the household. Earning the money, paying the bills, and planning for retirement was men’s work. Times have obviously changed, and while women still typically take the lead in household decision-making, we are staking our claim in the workforce as well. With many couples marrying later in life, more women prioritizing their careers, and the divorce rate holding steady, women are beginning understand the importance of financial independence.
That said, while studies show that more women than ever are involved in the family finances – creating the budget, handling the bills, and balancing the checkbook—many women are still either ignorant of or inactive in real financial management: the type of involvement that seriously impacts their future and that of their children. Sadly, the reason for this is that women tend to feel that they lack the knowledge or time to truly invest in the major areas of financial responsibility.
Contrary to popular belief, financial management fits the description of “women’s work” just as easily as it does men’s. The reason is that whether you are single or married, young or “mature”, male or female, understanding your finances is a personal responsibility. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nine out of every ten women will assume sole responsibility for their financial well-being at some point in their lives. It is important to be prepared with the knowledge, skills, and support necessary to successfully navigate that time period.
Q: Why is understanding your money important, and why do women need to establish an active relationship with their finances?
- Women live an average of 7 years longer than men. This means we will need at least 20% more saved up for retirement to support us during those years.
- On average, women earn 25% less than men, making saving for retirement more challenging for women.
- Because women are typically the ones who take time off to raise their children and are for aging parents, we end up saving less for retirement than men do.
- After years of earning salaries that are 25% lower than men’s, our social security benefits end up paying lesser amounts than men’s.
- Many women were not raised to take an active role in their finances, and these women may fear addressing financial concerns.
- Women are starting new companies at twice the rate of men, making our understanding of money critical not only to our personal success but also to that of our overall economy.
These issues may be tough to confront but they are not insurmountable if we, as women, build awareness of our financial situation and take an active role in managing our money. Here’s how we can start:
- Go Deep – Take an honest assessment of what you do and don’t understand about money. Ask yourself tough questions: How much do I earn? What do I spend? Do I have a budget? What is my plan for retirement? The answers don’t matter; what matters is that you remain brutally honest in order to dive deep and determine where you’re starting.
- Take Control – Commit to becoming financially strong and literate. Find a professional that you like, want to work with, and that you feel you can talk to, and work together to create a plan.
- Find A Buddy – You know that friend who holds you accountable to eat right and exercise? You need a friend like that for financial support as well. The best accountability system is a friend, someone who has the same goals and values as you do.
- Commit To Learning – Last but not least, take action by committing to learning as much as you can. Understanding and planning for your money is YOUR job. While you will find great professional help to support you, it’s also important to take a class, read some books, and watch endless YouTube videos about financial management. In other words, take charge of your money!
1 According to www.msmoney.com.
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