Women and their money

I actually get this a lot. I get people (men especially), who are dead surprised that I make good money (even before when I had my corporate job), and am able to save all the money instead of blowing it on clothes and accessories.

The old FB may have done that, but those days are over now.

And why are they over? Because I took the time and trouble to tell myself:

This has got to stop.

You don’t know where the money is going, you’re just blindly paying off your credit card bills and you feel like you’re on a treadmill running towards oblivion.

You have to take control of this, and learn how to budget better so that you can stop feeling like you’re lost.

Sound familiar?

Then you have to come to the same conclusion and start tracking your money, creating a budget and trying to stick to it.

I’m not saying be perfect at keeping your budget right on target or to always be under, but give it a try. If you fail (like I have, many many times over), then you just pick yourself up, tighten your belt next month and promise to do better.

The key is to try.

But the point of this post is not really about how to get out of debt or save money (my whole blog is like that, read the right sidebars for all my past posts).

No, this post is about the bad image that society has of women and how they are perceived in dealing with money and their finances.

(P.S. I am not trying to just target women, but it seems like we have a bad rep compared to the men.

Now, a man in most people’s minds, is more likely to take care of the finances and money in the household than a woman, at least from what I understand.

In the past, it may not have been like that. It seemed like women kept ledgers at home, they controlled the spending on food and the kids, but now the shift has happened where the woman is not the one staying at home any longer, and seems to have offloaded that task onto her partner.)

Honestly, most women seem to be classified as Shopaholics without a care in society. I don’t know where that comes from, but have you ever heard of people saying that if you keep repeating it, it will come true?

I think this is one of those cases.

Women are brought up not to love math, science, finance or anything ‘hard’. Think of those Barbie dolls of the past where you pull the string and she squeals: “Math class is tough *giggle*!!

Personal finance definitely deals with numbers and math, but what I want everyone to know is that the math that is involved is actually very simple to begin with.

You don’t need complex formulas or need to know anything about derivations or calculus. You just need to be able to add, subtract, divide and multiply, but that’s another blog post for another day.

But a lot of comments I get from men in particular are:

Women are such shopaholics….

Why the hell do they need all those shoes for?

Women just aren’t good with money

I don’t let my wife touch our money, because she’ll just spend it all on accessories and clothes

I’m better at dealing with money than my girlfriend.

And the sad thing, is that they’re generally right.

Then I shoot back at them So what? She doesn’t read about finance and doesn’t know what a debt-to-assets ratio is but you could teach her!

A lot of my girlfriends (I’d say a good majority) don’t have retirement funds, they don’t have savings, they don’t have emergency funds and they could not tell you the first thing about drawing up a budget.

I am desperately trying to change that, but I don’t want to be known as the PF Nag or the PF Nazi. But I really care that they learn how to be financially independent and not depend on their current husbands and boyfriends.

I also have those kind of quirky friends who save a lot of money because they don’t spend as much as they used to, but then they either just let the money sit there, languishing in a pitiful savings account bringing them 1% interest, or are just paralyzed when they hear you talk about retirement, investing or anything to do with so-called ‘high finance’.

They’re the easiest to work with from my perspective because they already save, but they just need the knowledge and the tools to put the money in the right spots, and not squander it on stocks like Lululemon or UGG that they think are fun without understanding what the stock really means and/or how to read financial statements from those companies.

I am a total advocate for buying stocks you believe in and purchase from, on a regular basis but before you buy on emotion, read the financial statements in detail to look and see if the stock has a future and value. The stocks that don’t seem to have a long-term potential, will take your money and fold if you just follow trends.

Again, another post for another day….

But moving on, a lot of men in general (colleagues, friends, family members) always express total amazement at my (what I think to be basic) knowledge of investing and budgeting. They can’t believe that I don’t spend everything I earn on a pair of shiny shoes the minute I get the cash.

They are practically drooling with envy when I talk about saving for retirement, emergencies and general savings because I’ve thought about all of this thoroughly, but am willing to ask for advice and to listen to them.

They can’t understand that I’d willingly buy a biography on Warren Buffett (The Making of an American Capitalist) and claim it to be an AMAZING book that taught me more about investing just from what he does.

All of them think that just because I’m into Sex and the City, fashion and all that kind of girly stuff, that I could not be interested in finance as well.

Total crock.

However, from my past dealings and impressions from people, I feel like there are many general profiles that I hear about all the time.

Profile 1: Shopaholics without a care
These are the women who are shopaholics who know nothing about their finances and couldn’t care less. These women just seem to KNOW that there’s a Prince Charming around the corner to bail them out (or their family will do it).

Profile 2: Worried Shopaholics
These are the women who are shopaholics, but are aware that they have a problem, but are afraid of confronting it and don’t know where to begin. These women are generally trying to look for Prince Charming to bail them out, but don’t actually have one in mind and feel like they’re on a treadmill they can’t get out of.

Profile 3: Paycheque to Paycheque
These are the women who aren’t shopaholics but still feel like they’re living paycheque to paycheque. They’d like to get control of their finances, but are overwhelmed and too busy to know where to begin.

Profile 4: Savvy, but investment shy
These are the women who aren’t shopaholics and are in control of their finances, but feel like they don’t know enough (especially about investing), and they leave that to their partners. They’d like to start, but are afraid that all the acronyms and ‘math’ things are over their head.

Profile 5: Finances under control
These are the women who are in control of their finances, and have a good understanding of the basics of investing, and are comfortable with talking a little bit about it.

Honestly, which profile do you fall into?

My dream is to have every woman as the last profile #5 – to be comfortable with the words “finance”, “budget”, “money” and to be able to talk openly and confidently about it. They are the women IN CONTROL (of their finances), even if their love life is crap, their career is dubious, and/or something else is wrong in their life.

They have emergency funds, they have savings, and know enough about basic investing to live on their own comfortably without ever imagining a Prince Charming is going to come along and poof their money troubles away.

I also tell a lot of my friends and everyone here that I DO NOT advocate beating yourself up or calling yourself stupid for getting into debt.

What’s done is done.

Now you just have to come up with a plan and deal with the aftermath.

No sense in feeling bad about what you did in the past, you can’t change it, so don’t waste energy trying to berate yourself.

So what do you think?

Do women have a bad rap when it comes to dealing with money?

And where does it come from? Society? Family? Culture? Self? Or all of the above?

And where would you categorize yourself?

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.