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Are Women Financially Savvy?

Myth #3 About Women and Money

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Myth #3: Women aren’t financially savvy.

This blog is part 3 of a blog series I produced that bust the stereotypes about Women and Money. Learn more about Myth #1: Women spend more money than men and Myth #2 Women are not confident investors by checking out my previous blogs

Are Women Financially Savvy? Women make most of the household money decisions

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Women are making most day-to-day purchases and budgeting decisions for their household. It is stereotypical “normal” for the one partner to make the day to day money decisions and another partner to get involved or make the decision when the dollar amount or decision is larger. If you think of your own household spending, those smaller transactions occur more frequently and likely add up to more than those “big” financial decisions. If there is a husband and wife, generally, women will make the “smaller” day to day decisions (grocery shopping, paying bills, household purchases), meaning they So, women are are making more money decisions daily, which adds up to a larger amount of money, but yet they still feel uncomfortable discussing financial matters and often consider money a taboo subject. As a Financial Advisor it is my life’s work to help women become Money CHIC: Money Confident, Informed, Healthy and Capable. 

Let’s first set expectations: When I say financially savvy, I don’t mean being able to rattle off what the Dow Jones has performed year to date or talk about stocks. I don’t expect everyone to be able to sit around and ramble about 401k returns or day trade their portfolio. I do expect everyone to take their head out of the sand. 

I hear women say things like:

“I was told it’s not polite to talk about money.”

“My spouse has always handled that.”

“I’m embarrassed that I make too much money.”

“I don’t know where to start when it comes to money.”

“It’s too late for me to learn how to manage my finances.”

While each statement has some validity, does that mean women are not financially savvy? If anything, these statements indicate that women have a complex relationship with money. How often have you heard a man make the above statements?

Are Women Financially Savvy? Women and their relationship with money

Women’s tenuous relationship with money is often influenced by things out of our power. In my opinion the main culprit is the lack of financial education (the second culprit is imposter syndrome). Think about your high school education. We were taught algebra, Shakespeare, and history. I had a class called Life Skills. In life skills I learned how to sew a button and make cookies. Valuable? Yes. Could the curriculum have been modified? Absolutely. 

One of my favorite classes in college was a 1 credit course that taught business etiquette. The professor was a sharp, well dressed, straight talking woman. She taught us things that I would have never learned and it is those little things that can make all the difference. For example, she taught us how to eat bread at a formal dinner. You do not butter the entire piece of bread and bite into the slice. You take a piece of butter, put it on your plate, rip a bite sized piece off the larger slice of bread, butter that bite sized piece only and consume. Then repeat. 

She taught us not to come hungry to a business dinner; we can always eat later. A business dinner is for business, not eating. 

She taught us that your work clothes should never be 100% cotton, they wrinkle too easily.

I learned the correct way to shake a hand and that my name tag should be on the right hand side because when you shake someone’s hand, their eye will then go right up to your name tag. 

Little things that if they were never compiled into this 1 credit course, it may have taken me years to realize, if ever. Thank you to Temple University’s Fox School of Business. 

Money is no different, if you never have a straight talking teacher to hit you with this information between the eyes, how are you going to learn it? It is hard to seek out information yourself! Especially when it comes to money. 

Every person should have a fundamental knowledge about stocks, bonds, mutual funds, investing, interest rates, credit card APRs, and how to create a budget. Even if this information bores you to tears, that’s OK, at least you know a little something about it. 

Are women financially savvy? Yes! If they want to be

I don’t expect every woman to turn on the tv and start “watching the markets.” CNBC and Fox Business are financial channels but with the same look and feel as ESPN.  They were not designed with women in mind. Think about how the media discusses finances. The words are different, but the design is the same. Those investing channels are geared towards men, and as a result, men gravitate to those channels and learn more about investing while women are intimidated and put off by the extreme masculinity.

84% of women feel misunderstood by investment marketers.

Women need and want financial marketers to speak their language so they don’t feel patronized and excluded. Talk TO us, not AT us.  It’s Marketing 101. Market to the target, determine their needs and desires, craft a campaign that meets those needs and success will be achieved. The problem is that financial marketers aren’t targeting women and women’s financial intellect is taking the brunt. 

Wouldn’t it be safe to assume that if women received a fundamental education in money, the complex relationship they have with money would disappear?

Are Women Financially Savvy?: Women will be solely responsible for their Finances. 

Single, Widowed, Divorced. It’s a reality that many of us are facing or will face in our lifetime. 

90% of women will be solely responsible for their finances at some point in their lives

 — whether from staying single, experiencing divorce or just living longer than their partner. 

 

How many times have you heard of a widow, whose husband made all the “big” financial decisions, handled their investments, insurance, etc., that was completely lost, financially, after he passed? When you’re dealing with the loss of a life partner, it adds insult to injury if you have no idea where your money is located or what you’re going to live off of. 

Many women after a divorce are financially devastated. Maybe their husband had debt, or they didn’t have as much money as she presumed and after the divorce can not longer afford to  live in her home. 

Instead of fearing or becoming a victim of the situation of being solely responsible for your finances, women need to become empowered with this reality and in turn become financially savvy. Know what’s going on. Instead of saying “my husband handles that,” attend the meeting with the financial advisor, or ask a couple of questions. When men talk about money, is it taboo then? Or is money just not ladylike?

Over the next decade, women will control two-thirds of all consumer wealth in the United States and be the beneficiaries of the largest transference of wealth in our country’s history.

Estimates range from $12 to $40 trillion. (Source: Mediapost, April 19, 2013; She-conomy). 

Women of all generations sense this and want to get savvy.  They have identified their financial stressors and are seeking solutions to mitigate them.

  • Boomers are seeking help with legacy documents and meeting with attorneys.
  • Gen X-ers are questioning their retirement needs and talking with financial advisors.
  • Millennials are thinking about savings outside of retirement, finding guidance from wealth coaches and online financial literacy courses.

Are Women Financially Savvy?: Women are seeking out help.

Do you see a pattern in the solutions women are seeking? All of them are looking to professionals for guidance and taking the reins of their own financial education. Does asking for help signify that women are not financially savvy? I think not. Asking for help is a sign that women are using the resources available to benefit themselves, marking the path for long-term financial comfort. What could be more financially savvy than long-term financial comfort?

Money is complex, from basic financial knowledge to making those big decisions to how money affects us emotionally. Women though need to embrace the complexity, take their head out of the sand, find a resource to help them and empower themselves. (and it is ladylike to talk about money).

Fact: Women are financially savvy, they just have a complex relationship with money.

I have been the only woman in a room of men in dark suits.

It can be intimidating.

My goal is to create an environment of comfort and openness for my clients.

The Greenway Wealth Advisory Blog

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