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...