“My husband does all the finances.” “I don’t know what our retirement plan is.” “I’ll have to ask if we can afford that.” Have those phrases come out of your mouth? Then it’s possible you aren’t taking financial agency as a married woman.
Financial agency means being one of the people who understands and makes decisions about your finances. Remember, in any married couple, there are two adults, and that means two people who should be keeping track of the family accounts. Finances are far too important to be left to a single set of eyes. Both spouses should always know what is happening with the family finances—and have the power to make changes as needed.
Too Many Women Don’t Have Financial Agency
In married couples, men are far more likely than women to take the lead on finances. Only two out of ten couples report they take equal responsibility. Very often, husbands do the researching, speak to the financial advisor, set up the accounts—and the wife only gets to see anything when it’s time to sign it.
If this were car maintenance or lawn mowing, it wouldn’t matter so much. But finances have a massive impact on a couple’s quality of life. If you don’t know what’s happening with your own money, you’re poorly positioned to give meaningful input into decisions that affect you.
Why You Need to Be an Equal Partner
Because It’s Good for Your Marriage
Money is one of the foremost reasons couples fight. That might be part of the reason women avoid dealing with it—if they don’t do the budget together, they don’t have to fight over it. But in reality, a lack of information can result in poor communication and cooperation on money matters. That causes more conflict, not less. When you deal with money together regularly, it becomes less fraught and stressful. You both know what your goals are and have come to an agreement on where to allocate your money.
Because He Can’t Always Do It for You
You also have to keep in mind that your husband won’t always be able to handle the finances. If he were ill, would you know what bills were due? Many married women also end up financially independent because of divorce or widowhood. In the case of divorce, you’re suddenly faced with financial independence at a time when your finances are as complicated as they will ever get. Would you know what to do?
Since four out of five women will outlive their husbands, it pays to be prepared to handle your finances alone. Widows and divorcees both overwhelmingly say they would advise other women to take more financial agency.
Because Two Heads Are Better Than One
Last of all, women should be involved because they’re just as competent. Few women would come out and say they believe men are more intelligent, but when it comes to finances, many trust their husbands more than they trust themselves. In reality, finances don’t have to be challenging to understand. With a little education, you’ll learn you’re more than able to manage the family finances equally. Research has shown women are competent investors, often out-performing men.
Sometimes financial decisions can get emotional, and a single person might get carried away. Maybe they’re afraid to invest, or conversely they could get excited about a potential for high gains and ignore the risks. Having a second person help make the decisions means less likelihood for one person to make a poor decision.
How Women Can Take Financial Agency
The simplest way for any woman to start taking equal financial agency is to educate yourself. Find out what accounts you have, and make sure you have logins for all of them. Ask what you need to know about each, and read up on them. For instance, if you have a 401(k), there’s tons of information on 401(k)s available for free online.
Next, plan a weekly or monthly time with your spouse to go over the finances. Have you both adhered to your budget? Is there extra money coming in lately, or have there been extra expenses? That regular meeting is a great time to talk about bigger plans as well. Is it time to buy a home? Should you invest some of the money in savings?
Last, it’s wise for couples to hire a financial advisor so you can go over everything necessary for your finances with a neutral third party. Plus, the advisor can educate both you and your spouse so you’re making the smartest decisions together you possibly can.
Get Started Today
Keeping track of your finances is just part of adult life. If you’re ready to take back your financial agency as a married woman, while making your relationship stronger than ever, don’t wait. Be the one to contact us today and make an appointment for you and your spouse to meet a financial advisor together. You’ll both be glad you did!