Women and Money: How To Gain Confidence
by Theresa Claire, CFP®
"Will your wife be joining us today?" I ask a husband before a financially planning meeting.
"No, she has no interest," he replies.
This scenario plays out more often than you might expect. I often wonder about women who don't attend those meetings. Is she busy, afraid, confused, intentionally being kept in the dark, or truly not interested? Of course, couples delegate in marriage. It's natural for one spouse to do most meal preparation, cleaning, and scheduling children's activities. While the other takes care of the lawn, car maintenance and repairs, and the household finances. However, delegating does not necessarily mean disinterest. Research shows that most women want to learn, but a lack of confidence holds them back.
Why Women Let Him Worry About It?
Men and women have different psychological and biological reactions to stress. Money worries can be stressful, and because women worry more than men, many female partners continue to defer financial decisions to their male counterparts. In 2020, UBS surveyed women who share at least $250,000 in investable assets with a male partner. The survey revealed that even highly educated millennial women with high-paying jobs were more likely to defer financial decision-making to their male partners. Almost half of all women (49%) allow their spouses to take the lead, including 54% of millennial women.
In "What Women Want," a popular movie from the year 2000, Mel Gibson's character, Nick Marshall, gains the ability to hear women's thoughts. He hears women worrying about their relationships, children, jobs, health, lack of accomplishments, and what others think about them. Worrying about all those things can be exhausting, and most women want to stop worrying and feel confident that everything will work out.
What Women Really Want
Hiding behind the veil of delegation, though, are women that secretly want to know but are afraid to ask. According to Fidelity's Money Fit Women Study, most women (92%) want to learn more about financial planning, and "83% want to get more involved in their finances within the next year." But women are less likely to bring up these topics because they feel uncomfortable, nervous, or intimidated.
Delegating financial decision-making is one way to feel confident that everything is going to work out. But staying in the dark about finances with blind trust can be dangerous. What if he becomes incapacitated, asks for a divorce, or dies unexpectedly? Instead of delegating all financial control, learning and understanding the plan is the best way to gain confidence and feel empowered.
When it comes to finances, worry is alleviated when we take action. For example, if we worry about paying late fees, we pay our bills on time. If we worry about our credit score, we keep our credit usage low and never miss a credit card payment. If we worry about filing tax returns, we hire an accountant. And, if we worry about saving enough for retirement, we may skip the $6 latte and choose to fund our retirement accounts instead. Over time, confidence in our actions replaces worry.
If you are a woman who has been delegating financial decisions, but want to learn about money and investing, start with the basics. Take the "Smart Women Finish Rich" Financial Knowledge Quiz to find out what you want to know. Then, talk to your partner about it. For women who live near Bloomington, Indiana, you're invited to bring your questions to a fun evening with Women, Wine, and Wisdom on August 29, 2022. Sign up by clicking the link below: