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Women: Be the financial decision maker you were born to be

Women are taking on more and more – personally and financially. And with that, comes much responsibility.

A lot of work goes into running a household. It’s the culmination of many different skills: good organization, thoughtful time management, and careful financial management.

The numbers prove it

However, women spend more time than men purchasing consumer goods and services for their families. In fact, women use their buying power and influence to drive 70 to 80 percent of consumer purchasing.1

That being the case, a woman should be just as involved as a man in the rest of the household’s finances, which includes saving and investing money. According to a recent study, 95% of women will be the family’s primary financial decision maker at some point in their lives.2

That’s a good thing. But keep in mind that women usually live longer than men. The average American woman will live to age 81.3

These are reasons why you should — and can be — engaged and knowledgeable about money matters.

You’re a boss, lady

More and more women are breaking down barriers in the workforce. Women in the U.S. occupy 57 percent of the jobs.4 Though many are holding higher paying jobs than in years past, they still overall make 82 percent of what men earn.4 This doesn’t add up, especially if women are expected to live longer than men. So, ladies, it’s all the more reason to get a tight hold of your finances.

You’re already caring for others and making big decisions

After a baby is born, it’s likely that both a mother and father will take time off from work. However, it’s common for mom to take more temporary leave than dad. Overall, 89% of women on unpaid leave without disability insurance were unable to cover costs comfortably during their time out of work. This means that many had to delay financial milestones: 34% delayed paying off student debt, 32% delayed buying a home, 26% delayed building a retirement fund and 29% delayed buying a car.5

In the midst of raising families and growing careers, men and women don’t worry too much about becoming a full-time caregiver to an adult family member. But when it does happen, women are most likely to take on the role of caretaker.8

More women caregivers are reporting a lack of choice to provide care — 55% in 2020 compared to 50% in 2015. They are also more likely than men to care for two or more adults, to be unemployed, and to be more stressed.6

The average caregiver is a 49-year-old woman providing 20 hours of unpaid care a week to a parent. These “working daughters” are employed and in the sandwich generation. Twenty-six percent of them are parents of a minor, and more than 50% financially support an adult child.6

Studies show women age 50 and older who leave their employment to care for a parent lose, on average, nearly $324,004 in wages and benefits over their lifetime.6

Take the bull by the horns – financially speaking

Now’s the time to immerse yourself in learning all about your finances. If you’re in a relationship with someone who takes care of all the money, challenge yourself to do a few things differently.

Open your own savings or retirement account that is separate from your spouse

Many women worry about how much money they’ll have in retirement. Only 19 percent of women believe they’ll have enough money to get them through their retirement years. That’s not surprising since women live longer than men.7

The longer you live, the opportunity increases for you to need more money for health-related expenses. Contribute to your own individual retirement account and, if working, take advantage of any employer match or benefits offered.

Attend all meetings with your financial professional

Families raising children lead busy lives. It’s a challenge to manage all the daily activities and responsibilities. Traditionally mothers are more often looked to for help. Make sure the meetings are scheduled at a time when you don’t have other commitments. And if something comes up last minute, change the time of the meeting so you don’t miss out.

Be responsible for your accounts

As the years pass, more accounts may be added to your financial portfolio. Be sure you’re familiar with where they’re located and their worth. It is important to keep record and let someone trusted know how to find financial information.

Work with your spouse to understand what he/she is responsible for and have them teach you (and vice versa)

Perhaps you pay the monthly bills but your partner takes care of the expenses that typically come up once a year, such as car insurance. Make sure you know the amount that’s due and when.

Know where records (and passwords) are kept

There’s nothing more frustrating than not knowing a password to access an important account. Keep your lists current and safe and make sure you — and your partner — update it on a regular basis.

Be sure to know the location of such financial records as bank names and account numbers; insurance information with policy numbers, agents’ names, and contact information; and sources of income and assets.

Women are already closely involved with their family’s day-to-day finances. The natural next step for them is to take a long-range view of their family’s — and individual — financial health. It’ll lead to a greater sense of financial security.

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1. Blaker, Kimberly. “The Buying Power of Women: How Women Shape the Economy and Business World,” Tysons Premier, March 11, 2022.

2. McKinney, Andrea, “Women and Their Role as Financial Decision Makers,” Central Trust Company, June 14, 2022.

3. O’Neill, Aaron. “Life expectancy of women at birth in the United States from 2009 to 2019,” Statista, February 2, 2022.

4. “Women in the labor force: a databook,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 2021.

5. Oyla, Gabrielle. “The True Cost of Motherhood: 89% of Women on Unpaid Maternity Face Financial Hardship,” Yahoo News, September 30, 2021.

6. Barger, Amy & Best, Christina. “The State of Women and Caregiving,” Caregiving.com, March 25, 2021.

7. Reinicke, Carla. “The Pandemic has Widened the Gap Between Women and Men’s Retirement Savings. What to Know About Catching Up,” CNBC, March 24, 2022.

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