Back in the days of 1950’s TV shows like Father Knows Best and Leave It to Beaver, women were often relegated to the role homemakers. Men were the primary breadwinners and managed the family finances. In some cases, women were only allowed a small weekly allowance for food shopping and personal expenditures.
Today, more women are earning college degrees than men are and as a result, many women earn more than their husbands do. Of course, there is still more progress to be made when it comes to gender pay equity. But when compared to the 1950s, women have come a long way baby.
Yet when it comes to managing investments, many women still lack the knowledge and confidence necessary to take control of their financial future.
Yet when it comes to managing investments, many women still lack the knowledge and confidence necessary to take control of their financial future. According to a study by Merrill Lynch, only 52% of women surveyed said they were confident about their ability to manage investments. Millennial women were found to be the least confident investors, at 46%. In a Fidelity Investments survey, more than a quarter of women surveyed (27%) said they were raised not to discuss finances.
These attitudes often cause problems later in life for women. According to a study by UBS AG, 74% of widowed and divorced women who were surveyed experienced negative financial surprises after a divorce or the death of their spouse. Yet in some cases, women’s financial problems are self-inflicted because they are reluctant to learn what they need to know. Many men today understand that it’s important to educate their wives about the couple’s investments, yet when they try to broach the subject, some women wave it off.
Think about it. Do you know who is named as the beneficiary on your husband’s retirement accounts? Could it still be his ex-wife, or your mother-in-law? When it comes to your investments, do you understand how your money is allocated and what you need to do to ensure you don’t outlive your retirement savings?
If not, here are some suggested actions you can take to overcome whatever is holding you back from taking a more active role in your financial future:
Open up the Lines of Communication. If your husband is trying to bring you up to speed and you’re resisting this help, ask yourself “why?” Do you hold some pre-conceived and outdated notions about a woman’s role in the world? Are you nervous that you will be made to look uneducated? Do some self-examination about your own attitudes, but then vow to take action to learn and communicate with your husband, and if you have one, your financial advisor.
Go Back to School. If a lack of understanding is holding you back, there are many resources available to help you get up to speed quickly. This blog is one source, as is my book, Bank on Yourself – why every woman should plan financially to be single, even if she’s not. But you can also simply read the financial section of newspapers, personal finance magazines, and financial websites to learn more about investing.
Learn at Work. Many employers offer on-site retirement planning workshops and guidance. Check to see what your employer offers and sign up for classes or in some cases, one-on-one personalized guidance.
Hire an Expert. The right financial advisor can help educate you and build your confidence. Look for someone who is a good listener, who won’t confuse you with industry jargon, and who has the patience to explain not just where you are financially today, but who will build your confidence so you can competently manage your finances on your own in the future if you ever need to.
Take action now to learn and communicate with your husband. Knowing that you will be ready to steer the ship without your husband’s help will provide both of you with peace of mind.