Women and money. Sometimes a sticky subject, but something I want to cover . Even though many households are two-income earners, more women than men stay home to look after their children and sometimes elderly relatives, so living on one income usually means the man is working and the woman is staying home. This, of course, is not always the case. Today, sometimes it’s the woman who makes more income than the man, but usually the woman is the lower earner. Some women feel they don’t need to know more about their finances, but if their husband is looking after paying the mortgage and the bills and investing their hard-earned money, they need to know what that involves. Don’t be fine with not knowing. Even if your husband continues to pay the expenses, at least know what is going out and what is coming in.
I lived with my sister before I met my husband and paid half the rent and half the bills. I was aware of what I had coming in and what I had to pay out. When I married, I just seemed to naturally continue doing the same thing for both my husband and myself. I take care of our bank account, paying the bills, investments, looking after any household expenses, and preparing our income taxes every year. Therefore, it bothered me when I talked to a woman who had no idea what was happening with her and her husband’s personal finances and their household finances. This woman is not incapable. She is a strong woman, very smart, deals with her household on a daily basis and has a child who has many health issues. She is someone who I admire because of how she handles her circumstances, but I was dumbfounded when she told me she has no idea what their household expenses are. She concerns herself with having enough money from her husband to shop for their household. I had to question her by what that meant. In my naiveté, I assume all women must know what expenses they have as a couple running a household? Nope!
It is so important for a woman to have a part in the knowledge of their household finances. Even if her husband continues to look after the expenses, it is very important to communicate and know where your money is going. I think a lot has to do with the fact that not that long ago we were raised with men being the breadwinner and women are secondary earners. I think my generation is just coming out of that scenario. Women did the shopping and were usually good at finding a great deal, using coupons, and saving their family money, but their was no knowledge as to how much is in their bank account. I was raised in a family where my father took care of all the finances, including a budget he wrote out faithfully every month. The key here was he included my mother in everything he did. Not a lot of households did this. So, my mother may not have written the cheques to pay the bills, but she knew what was owed, how much was in their accounts, and where all the paperwork was kept.
Another drawback for women is that many bank investors are men and still talk down to women. Going into a financial institution to invest your money can seem daunting and most of the language intimidating. If a couple have an appointment with a bank investor, most of the time the investor talks to the husband, ignoring the wife. I remember having an appointment with a young male bank employee about my kids’ RESP. I also wanted to learn how to buy and sell stocks and was thinking of setting up an account to do so. He asked me if I had any prior knowledge in stocks. I said I didn’t but wanted to learn. Basically, his response, after he chuckled first, was that it would be impossible to invest in the stock market unless you knew what you were doing. I was so taken aback at the time, I didn’t even respond and instead went on with the reason I was there for. So, even though I am doing all the banking for my family, I was still intimidated by this man. Needless to say, I insist on seeing the woman investor at our bank who has given me a lot of helpful advice over the years, including setting me up with an account to buy and sell stocks.
Unfortunately, there are some women who are forced to learn about finances due to a tragedy, their husband dies or leaves through divorce, and then they are left scrambling to figure out how to keep themselves afloat. Money should be communicated to each other and both husband and wife should know what is happening with their finances. Each should know how much is in your account, where your savings are, what are your investments, who to contact about your investments, what are your household expenses and what is your household income, and where all this information is kept at home. Be involved. Don’t leave it until a tragedy happens. Communication is important to keeping your household running together.