February is the month of love, so it’s a great opportunity to share some money stories around relationships. As you may know, finance is one of the major reasons why couples get divorced. Why? Well, based on my own relationship with my husband, I’ve found it’s because he and I have different experiences with money. We are both savers, but our approach is different. So it was quite interesting that over the past week I had three different conversations around women, marriage, and money.
I recently celebrated my birthday with a date night with my husband and another couple. Over the course of dinner, we got on the subject of women and finances. I shared with them how my goal is to engage and educate more women to participate in the finances of the home beyond just the household budget. So, my friend, “the husband,” posed a question to me.
“What makes you think men want their wives to be knowledgeable about finances?”
I was stunned by the question because here I am sitting with him and his wife, who is a highly educated, articulate, professional woman. I never thought such a question would have rolled off his tongue. Of course the conversation became quite engaging after that statement.
But I wondered how many men really felt that way. Needless to say, even if they do, my opinion is that women need to demand to be a part of the family’s finances, ALL OF IT. There may be times when you discover your perspective brings a valuable change as to how the family reaches a goal. Your opinion matters! So don’t disengage.
While at the doctor’s office this week, I had another conversation about women and money. It all started when the doctor asked me what was going on in my life. I shared that I had been doing a lot of writing on the topic of women and finances on my blog. He immediately stated how it was an extremely important topic. He had seen firsthand the impact on women who totally remove themselves from being involved with managing the finances in their household. Specifically, he mentioned his mother-in-law. She just did not know what to do when it came to money matters, and didn’t want to learn. She had a roadblock in her mind that she just couldn’t do it.
I’m sure this lack of knowledge exacerbated her fear. I know it would for me. The point that I found quite interesting from our conversation is when he asked this profound question: “Who says men know more about finances? It is assumed that we do, but that’s not necessarily true.” He just couldn’t understand why women would not be engaged in all the different aspects of their household finances. That’s why he strongly encouraged his two daughters not to be afraid of money management but to embrace learning about it like anything else. Besides, it’s not rocket science.
My final conversation that I will share is one I had with a woman on the phone. She is highly educated, with a Master’s degree. As we were talking about what I do, she shared with me that in her household she handles the day-to-day money issues surrounding budgeting for food, clothing, and the everyday items needed to run her family’s household. However, her husband handled the long term aspects of their finances. So recently, when her husband was out of town and one of the last snow storms hit, she realized, “What if something happens to him? Will I know what to do? Will I know how to handle everything around our finances beyond what I currently do?” This is a frightening situation to be in but yet many women find themselves here, especially if they’ve recently gone through a divorce or death of spouse.
I know this is supposed to be a happy post about love and how it can conquer all. But the reality is once the love has waned, the realities of life kicks in. These are things we, as women, have to think about and prepare for – our futures with or without our significant others.
Don’t get me wrong, love is a beautiful thing and I’m glad that I have an opportunity to experience it. But I feel I would do women, especially single women, an injustice if I don’t share some reality. So as Valentine Day approaches, maybe a great gift to receive along with the flowers and chocolates is to have a genuine discussion about money. I know it’s not romantic, so if not that night maybe plan a time to discuss it so you can stay aligned with one another in this area and reduce the frustration that can occur. Then those romantic times can truly be enjoyed without the stresses from either side about money or your next pair of heels.