Projections indicate that women will inherit 70 percent of future wealth over the course of the next two generations. This staggering figure does not include the wealth that will be earned by women themselves. That means women—who already control more than half of all investable wealth—are expected to take on an even greater amount of financial power in the coming years.
This reality is why we launched Her Wealth® and why we educate women about managing their money. Despite the name of our initiative, we want to set the record straight—our efforts do not exclude men. Instead, they more fully include women.
Her Wealth is Your Wealth
The fact is that we want and need men to participate in this process by encouraging their wives, mothers and daughters to become more engaged in their finances. We believe that doing so will secure the long-term financial health of the entire family, including the financial security of men in old age.
As women make and inherit more money, many are taking greater interest in managing the family finances. Also, seventy-five percent of women will be single by the time they are seventy-five years old, and most women will solely manage their finances at some point in their lifetime. The fact is that women need to become more prepared to manage their finances. If they don’t, they could be forced into taking control while in a crisis—which is the worst kind of “on-the-job training.”
It’s a common misconception that many women simply aren’t interested in taking an active role in money management. Our observation is that women want to be more involved and will begin to engage when given the right opportunity.
Boosting women’s confidence is key
Lack of engagement in money matters is not necessarily due to a lack of interest, but rather may be about discomfort around the topic itself. A Fidelity Money Fit Women study found women are more comfortable talking to their partners about health or work issues than about money with 65% of surveyed women saying they are less likely to discuss investment ideas. But women also said more support from their spouses would encourage them to become more engaged in their finances.
The study also found that 92% of women said they want to learn more about financial planning and 83% want to get more involved in their finances within the next year. Boosting confidence and encouraging participation are areas where men can help the most as less than half of the women surveyed said they’d be comfortable talking about money on their own with a financial professional.
Collaboration creates both harmony and better financial results
Marriage counselors and relationship therapists say the best relationships are ones where partners regularly talk about money. Even without statistical proof, we all know of at least one couple whose marriage failed as a result of money issues. It’s normal to disagree about money, but having worked with hundreds of couples over the years, I have found that when a couple learns to positively discuss their money, their overall relationship improves.
In addition to benefiting from greater relationship harmony, discussing money makes it easier to work together toward common financial goals by uncovering areas of disagreement and setting expectations of what each person needs to do to contribute to meeting those goals.
What may not be fully appreciated is that women and men often have different financial skills. LIMRA, a worldwide research, learning and development organization’s Secure Retirement Institute study suggests that men focus more on the “revenue side” of retirement planning while women focus more on “expenses.” This is a good reason for the two to team up as they have different, but complimentary skill sets, especially when it comes to retirement preparation.
Putting your strengths together may actually result in a better approach than simply having one partner manage all of the family money. We recommend that men consider their own money strengths, play to their partners’ strengths and make managing finances a joint responsibility.
Mutual engagement contributes to family security
Sometimes couples waste time and energy butting heads about money. We suggest refocusing that energy by taking positive actions towards creating a financial plan. For example, if you and your spouse work together on your financial future, then you’re more likely to have put in place the necessary insurance, like disability insurance and an estate plan, like having wills and trusts. Spelling out what should happen in case of unexpected events means you’ll both be equally prepared if someone has to take on the task of managing the finances on their own.
This positive behavior will go a long way in securing your children’s financial futures too. When both parents are on top of their financial situation and equally engaged, it’s less likely that the younger generation will be caught off guard or have to step in should one parent become disabled or die.
Treat your daughters like your sons
Another way your children’s financial future is protected is by fathers setting the same expectations for their sons and daughters when it comes to money. Parents can help their children create more life choices by instilling financial independence, no matter their gender.
If you have daughters, consider that millennials, if they marry at all, marry much later in life. One study showed that women who were born in the 1980s and 1990s are on track to stay unmarried at rates much higher than previous generations. In fact, the marriage rate for women currently in their early 30s is close to zero.
Since young women are likely to remain single well into their 30s, they will need to effectively manage money alone far longer than their own mothers. When you also consider that many carry college debt in the tens-of-thousand-of-dollars, they enter their earning years less financially secure than any generation before them.
The positive influence that fathers have on the financial futures of their daughters is immeasurable. If fathers (or other male role models) encourage their daughters to take responsibility for their own finances, they will be more likely to have financial security throughout their lives, more likely to be prepared for their own retirement, less likely to live in poverty in old age, and less likely to stay in unhealthy relationships.
Replace ‘money fears’ with financial facts
In our article, How To Overcome Your Money Fears and Move Ahead we identified fear as a common emotion women experience when dealing with money. It’s natural for women to have some level of fear about their financial security, especially as they tend to live longer. Fear can paralyze both men and women by getting in the way of important decision-making. It can also be a powerful factor that motivates women to become more financially engaged and prepared for their future.
A huge benefit that comes from a thorough review of your finances as a couple is that many of your fears are replaced with facts. Without a detailed review of your numbers, too often women assume their situation is worse than reality. By working through the details, they gain clarity and have a more realistic understanding of the actions they need to take to create a solid financial future. This is where engaging women in the process can go a long way in improving your relationship around money and create a positive experience when managing your collective hard-earned wealth.
Here are a few tips to help you engage the women in your life in their finances:
We’d like men to consider that, if you’re not talking to your spouse about your finances, both of you are making individual money decisions that affect your entire family every day. Absent discussion, you’ll each act according to your own desires which may not fit with the expectations you have for your future.
So, talk about money with the women in your life in a way that encourages and empowers them to want to participate more. You have a stake in Her Wealth®—the financial security of the women you love.
Consider this your training manual to get and stay financially fit for life!