These days, we discuss and post almost everything — from what we had for dinner to recent medical exam results. Social media and blogs invite us to share intimate details. Yet 80% of women surveyed in a 2015 Fidelity study on women and money said they refrain from talking about money with people close to them.1
Talking about money with a trusted advisor is the first step on the journey to financial confidence. Each financial planning situation for both women and men presents its own challenges. However, planning for women is especially important because women tend to live, on average, 2.3 years longer than men.2
In addition, women are far more likely to live alone for a significant period of time (either by choice or circumstance), often take career breaks to raise children and/or become a caretaker to parents or loved ones, so they earn lower wages over their lifetimes and therefore have less opportunity to save for the future. Discovering how to use money as a tool to enhance present and future life can inspire taking a new approach that leads to clarity by tracking successes (and setbacks) rather than shying away from them. So, why do some women hesitate to have conversations about money?
Five Reasons Why Women Don’t Talk About Money
1. “It is not polite to talk about money.”
It is a common refrain to hear people say they do not discuss religion, politics or money as it usually causes disagreements, so best to avoid all of it. Even as we see younger generations begin to question the logic of these beliefs, there are still generations of adults who follow this command as it relates to money.
2. Personal finance was not taught in school.
A vast majority of school districts in the United States have not adopted a financial curriculum, further compounding the deficit in financial education at home. According to the Council for Economic Education’s 2016 Survey of the States, “Only 17 states require students to take a high school course in Personal Finance.”3 That equates to 66 percent of school children still not being formally taught essential personal financial life skills.
3. The financial world seems too complex.
There are many differing opinions regarding what people should do with their money. Some of those opinions originate from people who do not possess the knowledge they claim to have or from people who do not have investors’ best interests at heart. With the financial media telling investors when to buy and sell risky individual stocks or hot sectors, and with the existence of confusing products in the marketplace like derivatives of derivatives, it’s no wonder that intelligent women and investors in general are leery of taking any action. Yes, the financial world is complex — but women need to boldly step forward and find a trusted financial professional who will take time to get to know them and be able to help eliminate the noise, simplify the financial world, foster clarity, education, and confidence as well as advise them based on what is in their long-term best interests.
4. One spouse manages the household finances and leaves the other spouse uninvolved and uninformed.
Although the number of women who manage the household finances continues to increase, many married women are shockingly not aware of where their investments are held, how much is required for monthly household expenses or what would happen if their spouse became disabled or died. When one spouse takes on all these duties for the family, it leaves the other spouse out of the loop and at risk. A stereotypical division of family responsibilities where one spouse takes care of the finances and the other spouse takes majority care of the children and household allows for a serious disconnect that may have myriad consequences.
5. Prior money decisions are viewed with regret and not considered learning opportunities.
There are few people who haven’t made a bad decision with their money at some point in their lives or who later realized the true opportunity cost of not saving enough earlier in their lives. However, some women view such “mistakes” with shame and sweep them under the rug when it is more productive to consider those experiences as a learning opportunity or a wake-up call for improvement and better understanding.
The Positive Effect of Regularly Tracking Progress and Gaining Clarity
All investors should make time at least quarterly to check in on their financial status and progress toward the life they wish to live. This can result in feelings of empowerment due to having money, goals and values all working toward alignment. It is also important to reflect upon and gain clarity about subconscious money beliefs, as they were established in childhood and often continue to present into adulthood.
Investors can gain control over their finances and reduce their financial stress just by having a financial plan.4 A 2013 study of 15,000 people by the Financial Planning Standards Council (the national accrediting body of CFP® professionals in Canada) found that individuals who engage in financial planning report significantly higher levels of financial and emotional well-being than those who do not.5
Regular meetings with a financial advisor are also pertinent to financial success because they provide the chance to discuss concerns, track goals and announce victories. An advisor can help identify areas of vulnerability and strength, establish resources to weather financial emergencies, manage risk exposure, craft a savings and retirement plan with a sensible investment strategy and help manage emotions and stay informed during periods of market volatility.
When women talk about money, they break through the barriers and stigma to address any concerns or fears they have. Ask questions. Dare to begin.
1 “Money Fit Women Study: Executive Summary.” Fidelity Investments, 2015.
2 “Calculators: Life Expectancy.” Social Security Administration, Accessed June 26, 2017.
3 “Survey of the States.” Council for Economic Education, January 2016.
4 “Stress Test: Americans, Especially Women and Younger People, Stressed by Finances.” CFP Board, April 13, 2015.
5 “A Road Map to Well-Being: The Value of Financial Planning.” Financial Planning Standards Council, May 1, 2013.
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