Studies show that the biggest fear around women and money is that they will run out of money one day! This is true whether the woman has $5,000 in the bank, or $10,000,000 in multiple investment accounts. I would like to be able to ease this sabotaging fear around women and money and say that it’s not warranted, but….
Study after study reveals that women are much less involved than men when it comes to investing their money. It’s no wonder, however, that men are more involved with wealth management. Since, the current adult generations of women have been heavily influenced NOT to be involved with their wealth management. This is due to centuries of involvement being socially unacceptable. The old messages were “Don’t be smarter than your man.” Affluent circles of my own mother’s generation would have still left the room when money was discussed!
Women and Money: A Dated Mindset
The old way to get a man was to make him feel smart, and this meant for a woman to never outshine him. Culturally, most of these messages were unspoken in many circles, and they probably resided below the conscious level by the 1970’s. But, they were alive and kicking women right in the gut, nevertheless. I have certainly experienced these dated messages from jokes about women and money. For example, investing talk at dinner parties that exclude women entirely. And, financial advisors who obviously made more eye contact with the man in the room than they did with me. These punches are all based on assumptions that women know little, if anything, about money and investing. But, the man is smart about money and is in charge of the family investments. (We all know the first three letters in the word assumption!)
No big deal? Here’s the problem now: Our daughters, granddaughters and nieces still see and hear these indirect messages. They are absolute little sponges for such subtleties about how women should behave! And so the messages carry forth to the next generation, leading this little girl to wonder why she gives away her power around money when she becomes a smart and capable adult many years later. This dangerous passage of responsibility feels right deep inside, yet it feels wrong, too. Somehow, creating confusion in her mind. It sets her up for dependency, insecurity, and having her money poorly invested without her leadership. Or, maybe even squandered away by an irresponsible husband.
Changing the Culture
If this sounds incredulous, is this paradigm not confirmed with the stories from powerful women and money leaders, including Barbara Stanny, and, more recently, Sallie Krawcheck, founder and CEO of Ellevest? Did the dichotomy of those invalid money messages and their brilliance lead these women to devote their careers to changing the culture around women and money during their lifetime? Both of these savvy women bravely shared that regret allowing an ex-husband to be the sole leader of their investments.
The unspoken messages create even more internal chaos for women and money leadership than the spoken words. When a message is spoken, at least we are free to choose not to accept it. But, subtlety in disempowering messages around money magnifies their potency. They become sabotaging due to the internal conflict and confusion that they cause. They lead a women to know that she both needs and truly desires financial confidence, yet feels it is wrong somehow. This wrongness fuels avoiding investing, feeling unworthy of wealth, undercharging, and intimidation around women actually leading their wealth. The word lead and wealth feel out of place in the mind of most women still today. Yet, they reside quite comfortably in the minds of most men.
Women Are Capable
This awareness leads me to ask: Were our grandmother’s really not that financially savvy? This was not the case for my own female ancestors! One of my great grandmothers took over the family hotel in rural Mississippi during the Great Depression, and basically saved the family. In addition, feeding many homeless who stopped at the kitchen back door during mealtime. Miss Lula (pictured above), as she was called by my dad, positively influenced my father to become the respected adult and successful investor he became. He spoke of her lovingly and with admiration for her leadership. As a young girl, I picked right up on this message, yet, there was still disconnect between this and other cultural messages around women and money.
My grandmother on my mom’s side ran a farm in a remote area of Arkansas. She was often the only adult, but with eleven children! (Can you even imagine?) This drive influenced my mother to establish her own career after traveling alone by train to Memphis in the 1940’s, which was rare for those days. I don’t think any of this female leadership was unusual for the time. There were wars that took the men away, early deaths among men and hardships. Strong women ran the show out of necessity, and that included the family finances.
Savvy Women Lacked Recognition
You probably have similar stories of women leaders in your family. At the core of these examples of savvy women from the early to mid-1900’s was knowing how to run a business, and make and manage the money to pay the bills, feed the family, and maintain a home. Were these women recognized in conversation for their financial and business savvy, or perhaps on the cover of Forbes® or Entrepreneur®? I think not; playing down your assets, especially when it came to business and money, was a much safer bet to land a husband in those days. And doing so was both expected and needed to have a good standard of living.
The fact that women couldn’t even vote during the lifetime of most of these women is preposterous since they were often running the show. Inability to vote reinforced that women were incapable of smart decisions, and were and should be dependent on men. Dependency destroys the ability to lead. This paradigm bred a lack of confidence that is still present today. Logically, since this unfair and debilitating control over women heavily influenced the adult women of today. Why? Because it dampened the confidence and power of our grandmothers and mothers through subtle yet disempowering messages that we felt, however deep.
And today? Look at these brilliant and purpose driven millennial women creating global positive change in the world! But are they owning their wealth leadership at the same pace?
What Woman Can Do
What’s the chatter over dinner with friends? Are the men still talking stocks, real estate and business deals, while the women are talking about sales, food, or health? Not to discredit any of these topics, which I happen to enjoy, but, as women, can we:
- Schedule an hour a month to look at our money to make sure we are setting it up to provide funds for life so we can maintain our standard of living?
- Own and share our highest and best skills to make money?
- Understand the value of the index concept? Grasp capital appreciation vs. income investing and understand the basics of where our money is really invested?
The New Norm
If so, then the talk among women will naturally lead to investment talk, or supporting one another in wealth creation. And the little eyes and ears of the next generation will hear and see that both men and women talk about money. And that’s a good thing. Let’s make women and money leadership the norm for all future generations of women.
My Gift to You
By the way, if you want to understand the value of the index concept and grasp capital appreciation vs. income investing and understand the basics of where our money is really invested, then you’ll definitely want to grab my Bricks investing eBook. It’s a gift to promote women and investing education. It would be excellent bedtime reading to put your young daughter right to sleep, but it just may stimulate you to become a more confident and better investor!