April is financial literacy month so here’s a call for women, by women, to become more pro-active in managing money
Money can feel daunting! Is managing your money creating anxiety? Remember: Everyone shares their own unique relationship with money. Depending on a woman’s childhood, family, background, culture, socio-economic influence, family traditions etc. — her overall perception of money management might vary. Also, every family makes their own choices about roles, chores, and responsibilities.
According to the U.S. Bank Women and Wealth Insights Study, women under-engage with their finances, although they control more than $20 trillion in wealth. Is it fair to assume that women might be earning the money, but they are not necessarily managing it too? The research findings also tell us that while women value financial security, nearly half of those interviewed associate negative words with financial planning. Women tend to be less engaged with personal finance and many opt out of enhancing their financial knowledge.
I rarely hear women talk about financial wellness as being part of their daily self-care routine. If anything, I have heard, “Let’s leave the planning to the man.”
I have also met women who didn’t believe in being financially independent. “Someone else will provide for me,” they shrug when real life conversations around money come up. A few didn’t think they needed to be aware of the need for financial planning. If you are a homemaker, you might feel you aren’t entitled to knowing about your family’s financial wellbeing, but that’s far from the truth. Every woman should be aware of her family’s finances and able to run it without any interference or help.
- Did you know that 59% of divorced Americans state that finances played a role in their divorce? (source).
- People under financial stress are 13 times more likely to have a heart attack (source).
- According to the Society of Actuaries report Difficulties in Gaining Financial Security for Millennials, 51% of Millennial women say they are overwhelmed by their financial situation, compared to 29% of men. (source)
- Women disproportionately take care of their elderly parents or family members (source)
- Did you know that financially stressed people are much less productive at work?
Financial stress can have a huge impact on everyday life for a large majority of women. Not knowing enough about money can make you feel helpless. Research tells us that women tend to outlive their male counterparts, and therefore generally need more money to fund their senior living expenses. Given that women are paid less than their male counterparts and might have to take employment breaks to bring up children and care for their elderly parents — they are at a disadvantage when it comes to retirement savings.
I spoke with five female financial experts who remind us why financial self-care matters. They also share financial tips for a new kind of self-care routine in 2021:
Diane Neustadt, Director of Operations at Forest Hills Financial Group Insurance, Financial Planning tells us, “In my generation, it was the norm for women to be chiefly caregivers, housekeepers, and wives while our husbands provided for the family. Money was the man’s responsibility, and many women did not concern themselves about what would happen if they needed to take on multiple caregiver roles and/or be financially independent. We have made remarkable strides, but many women still feel financially unprepared. Regardless of marital status — single, divorced, widowed, or married — it’s so important for women to take a much more active role in their financial lives. Women are still earning less than men and need to work longer to make the same amount of money as our male counterparts. Earning less reduces retirement income (Social Security, retirement accounts, etc.) and combined with living longer than men, this can lead to a large retirement funding gap.”
Ruchi Pinniger, Founder/CEO of Watch Her Prosper™ says, “Did you know that 61% of women would rather talk about the details of their own death than money(1) ? I know the numbers may seem scary, but isn’t it scarier to live your life ignoring your finances? We say we will deal with them later, but later never comes. “Later” isn’t in the calendar.” She reminds women, “Not only will taking care of your finances lead to peace of mind, but ultimately it’s a form of self-care and allows us to create our own futures. Whether you own a business or work for a company, understanding what you are earning, and spending helps to set goals, save money, and plan for your trips, spa days and retirement.”
(1) Source: by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave
Monica Ranjan is a Business Manager in England. She says, “This issue is very close to my heart as I have seen the wellbeing of many women suffer due to inadequate financial control. The premise of self-care is rooted in some fundamentals which are very basic and affect our existence on this planet. Basic needs like food shelter etc. and then more complex ones like economic, social interaction etc. However, in today’s society the secondary needs have merged with primary needs. We are fighting for our survival today by fighting for our identity which defines our existence. Our identity can be protected and progressed through self-care only if that economic and social base is stable. You cannot breathe if your lungs are filling up with smoke from little fires of uncertainty everywhere. So, we need to start by removing that mind and soul-destroying uncertainties, be it financial, so we can thrive.”
Ramona Thomas, a financial advisor says, “Many people are simply uncomfortable talking about money. Some of this is learned from childhood (i.e., how and what we learned about money growing up). Some of it is cultural and/or personal — we live in a society where money matters. I work with a lot of women, many of whom carry some shame about past financial decisions or guilt about not being where they believe they should be financially at this point in their lives. Some are shy or embarrassed by what they perceive as their lack of financial literacy or investment knowledge. When people are really stressed about money or do not feel like they have enough (or will never have enough), they make hasty or unproductive financial decisions that negatively impact their financial outlook and position. Your thoughts and beliefs drive decision making, so mindset is important.”
Smita Baliga who works for KPMG US, said, “To me, self-love is more than applying a face mask or getting a massage. It’s about financial independence, having income generating assets, investing wisely, and having unlimited flexibility. The peace of mind that comes from taking charge of my life is my happy space.”
While yoga, meditation, massages, and other kinds of self-care rituals can help lower anxiety in the moment, not being involved in financial self-care can wreak havoc on your overall life and wellbeing for an extended period of time. Look inward and understand what habits work for you. Get help if you need it. But don’t ignore financial wellness. 90% of women will be solely responsible for their finances either from staying single, getting divorced, or living longer. We owe it to our current and future selves to have a firm handle on our finances.
“A woman’s best protection is a little money of her own.”– Clare Boothe Luce
You may also enjoy reading Is Your Money Happy? A Refreshing To Navigating Your Finances, by Ken Honda