Contributed by National Bank of Arizona
It is no secret that traditionally, men are the head of the household. They were the ones that made the money, so they controlled the major financial decisions for the family. The key word in that sentence is were – men were the ones who controlled finances. It is quite apparent that times have indeed changed and the era of the Stepford Wife has given way to the working wife, working mother, just plainly, the working woman.
The average American woman is expected to earn more than the average American male by 2028 and 51% of U.S. private wealth is controlled by women.1 These numbers are pretty astonishing, but the reality is women can’t, won’t or don’t discuss finances PERIOD. According to a recent study, eight out of 10 women find talking with family or friends about money to be “too personal” or “uncomfortable”.2 That’s fine, but almost half of the women surveyed didn’t feel confident even speaking with a financial professional. Let’s be real for a second; if you’d like to know about your personal health, then you speak to a doctor; if you’d like to know about your car’s health, then you speak to a mechanic. What makes finances so different and so intimidating?
To dive into this topic, we surveyed financial professionals on a handful of questions to discover the money mindset of the women they interact with on a daily basis.
Why do women tend to hesitate to talk about money?
The overall consensus is that women aren’t confident when it comes to money, so they resist talking about it. Women aren’t taught to talk about money, so they feel uncomfortable. National Bank of Arizona Executive Vice President, Director of Private Banking, Mary Holman noted that this mindset can be attributed to the fact that “many women were not raised to talk about money. It has always been perceived as a ‘male’ conversation.”
Why do women tend to have a problem advocating for themselves?
The general thought on this question is that women tend to be nurturers and that women may find it more comfortable to be modest, perhaps because of what society teaches women about their egos. National Bank of Arizona Vice President, Relationship Banking Manager, Jennifer McGirr remarked that, “Women are inherently nurturers so they often times forget to nurture the most important person, which is themselves.”
What is the biggest misconception women have about money?
The majority opinion is that money will always be there and that you need to understand finance to understand money. National Bank of Arizona Vice President, Relationship Banking, Manager Kate Van Driel commented that women think money “brings you happiness and security.” Additionally, Holman added that if you are making money, the assumption is you will continue to make it and you don’t think of unforeseen circumstances that can derail you.
What is the best way for women to concur this negative money mindset and mental hurdles surrounding money?
First, education! Learn about money and how to bank, borrow and invest. Learn about where your money goes and how to make your money work for you. The best way to educate yourself is to “surround yourself with trusted resources and advisors,” said Van Driel. If you are a parent, teach your children about money, what it takes to earn it, how to save it and what its real value is in terms of shaping the type of life and future you want to have. If you don’t feel that you are qualified to teach these lessons, then do some research online or speak to your banker about how to prepare your child for a successful financial future.
Second, just talk about it! Honestly, what is the worst that is going to happen?! “It’s okay to ask questions,” said McGirr. “The more informed that you can become the more successful you will be.” Become clear on what you want to see in your and/or your family’s future then speak to a financial professional about what it will take to achieve and sustain this future.
Sometimes, people get stuck seeing themselves as what they once were and not who they currently are. Women and finances are no different. In today’s world, 90% of women will manage their own finances at some point in their lives.3 There are many factors behind this financial independence such as women staying single longer, getting a divorce, being widowed and the need for women to step-up as head of the household for a variety of reasons. All of these factors make it essential for women to have a firm grasp on how to save, manage and invest money. So, support yourself and the women in your life by having the tough, but crucial financial conversations.
“Women in the Labor Force: A Databook,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012.