Remember the book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” by John Grey? He offered suggestions on how to improve male/female relationships in couples by helping them to understand the different communication styles and emotional needs of each gender.
The same can be said as to how males and females think and behave when relating to money and finances. A woman’s financial needs and circumstances differ a great deal from those of men. Men and women tend to be socialized in different ways from birth and this carries over into the way each gender views and uses money.
Historically, women were raised with the idea that their future should be focused on being a wife and mother and the need to develop the related skills required to running a household rather than those required for independent living and building a secure financial future.
Things are changing and in many cases, unlike their parents, today’s women are waiting longer to marry and have children, in spite of the residual effects of learned socialization behavior from their parents. One fundamental difference is that women as a rule tend to earn less money than men as the result of workplace inequalities that have yet to be resolved.
Women also tend to take more time out of the workforce to bear and raise children which affects their pay and impacts their career advancement and retirement savings potential.
Women as a group have different financial needs. On average, they live longer than men so they need to consider this in any financial planning for their retirement years as odds are they will outlive their partner. Other concerns are the number of widows living in poverty or divorced mothers raising children as a single parent. Single moms raising children alone, make up a big percentage of our nation’s poor, and even those who have some level of child support find it hard to keep up to all the day to day expenses.
I recommend that women take the time to learn about money and finance and to be an active participant in family finances and decision making. It’s especially important to invest in yourself and start taking the steps between age 20 and 30 to build your wealth. Many young women don’t make investments such as buying a home or saving for retirement, or have sufficient life, disability, critical illness or long term care coverage to cover the “stuff that happens” that life may throw them.
As mentioned in previous articles, learn to differentiate wants from needs and to avoid shopping when stressed or feeling down. Develop a budget, starting by recording everything you spend for a month. Most people are shocked when they realize how much they spend on wants rather than needs. If you’re financially prepared for the possibility of unpleasant things happening such as a marital breakup or single parenthood, the future could be less stressful. As a woman, you are likely to outlive your partner so be sure that any financial planning reflects this possibility.