Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Call To Arms: Don't Be A Stereotype

After going to one too many financial planning seminars for toward women where they open with a joke about shoes or harp on and on about how much money women spend on shopping, I have decided that enough is enough. Women of the world, let’s show the world that we are not as clueless as everyone likes to make us out to be. How should we do this, exactly? I’m glad you asked.

1.  Ask for what you deserve. Get the starting salary you want, ask for raises, take on big projects at work or in your community, lower your monthly loan or credit card interest rate, or get a credit limit increase. The stereotype is that women don’t make/have as much money as men because they don’t ask for it. So, let’s start asking.

2.  Know that your money is your own. Sure, I run big purchases by my husband before I pull out my credit card, and we handle our household finances together as a team, but if anyone ever tried to tell me I couldn’t or shouldn’t buy something (like shoes) or that I should ask my husband for permission first, I would not take this well. I have a job and I work hard for that money. Don’t insinuate that the money I make belongs first and foremost to my husband or that he is the gatekeeper to the family finances. This is not 1955.

3.  Don’t spend too much money on shoes. Or, don’t spend too much money on shoes until everything else (savings, retirement, debt) is taken care of. Then you can spend your money on whatever you want (see #2).

4.  Get your retirement in order. On average, women live three years longer than men, and we also make less money than men (again, on average) over our lifetimes. This means that the earlier we start saving and the more we’re able to save for retirement, the better situated we will be in our golden years, without having to depend on a man to be our meal ticket (we can if we want to, of course, but we won't be forced to). Got questions about retirement? For a long time I did too. Check out this post I wrote a few years ago for more info.

5.  Set people straight. If anyone insinuates that you should ask your husband what you’re allowed to do with your money, that all women blithely spend all their money on shoes and clothes without planning for the future, or that you are going to quit your job the minute you decide (if you decide) to have kids, set them straight (even if this is the case for you, it’s not the law, despite what some people say or think). Remind them that you are a modern woman with a modern financial plan, and then smugly walk away.

Anything else I'm missing? Have you guys ever been told that you're going to get in trouble with your husband for spending a lot of money on an item? I have, but that's a story for another day...


ReeseAnnaJean said...

It's weird, in our circle of friends it's mainly the women who are more frugal/sensible about money and the men who can't handle money well.

I still need to get my retirement sorted, though. I'm now contributing to a mandatory pension plan at my new job (which is matched), but everybody says I should get my own IRA. I can't decide if it's better to open an IRA or keep throwing money toward debt. Thus far it's been the latter.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I've been financially independent for so long, it's strange to me to think that there are people who feel like they need to 'ask' their husband for permission to buy things... And really I can not imagine being attracted to the kind of person that would think it was necessary for me to ask permission.

I think the #1 piece of advice I would give people about money is to put more towards retirement than they think they will need or have someone do the math on how much they will need as i think people really under estimate. And then I'd tell them that leasing a car is a horrible waste of money (unless you really really value always having a newish car and don't mind always having a car payment) and then lastly I'd tell them in general that cars are horrible "investments" since they are a depreciating asset and that no one really cares what kind of car you drive.

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

Along the lines of #2, Sweets and I decided to keep our own checking and savings accounts when we got married. Since we are both employed, we put our own money in and take our own money out. We've sorted out household bills, so that mostly comes out even. Though, Sweets does give me money every month to put towards the the mortgage. And, due to the sale of my last condo / my annual bonus, I hold most of our savings in my account (though, he does have some in his).

Long story short, Sweets and I discuss major purchases. And sometimes, smaller purchases, too. But, we also make our own decisions about how we spend money and don't scrutinize/nitpick each other.