The slogan “girl power” has been used for decades to encourage and celebrate female empowerment, independence, and confidence. The term used most often relates to sports and employment; however, new studies are showing that women need to exert their girl power when it comes to finances and financial planning.
A recent study released by UBS shows that 58% of women worldwide defer long-term financial decisions to their spouses. This study included nearly 3,700 high-net-worth married women, widows and divorcees in nine countries. The results of the study showed that 85% of women were responsible for the day-to-day finances; just not the long-term.
What is really interesting is the generational span of this survey and, most notably, the generation most likely to allow someone else to control their decisions: millennials! Millennials are a generation well known for promoting equality and empowerment. Unfortunately, the survey results indicate the helicopter-style parenting millennials were raised with, where someone else is always ensuring their well-being, has bled into the financial realm. Fifty-nine percent of millennial women aged 20 – 34 are more likely to allow their spouse to take the lead compared to 55% of women over 50. The general excuse from the younger women is they have “more urgent responsibilities than investing and financial planning”. Even more contradictory to the equality movement is they “believe their spouses know more about long-term finances than they do”.
The challenge this arrangement poses is the lack of preparation and understanding should a life event such as death or divorce occur. The report noted that 74% of the widowed and divorced women it surveyed reported “discovering negative financial surprises after a divorce or death of their spouse.” Hindsight resulted in 74% of these respondents wishing they had been more involved in long-term financial decisions while they were married, rather than trying to navigate them while coping with such significant life changes.”
The ideal solution is for both partners in a relationship to be aware of both the short- and long-term aspects of their finances. Whether you are married, engaged, common-law or committed, financial planning is another part of creating a responsible long-lasting arrangement between two parties. In this age, knowledge really is power. So be powerful, take control of your money.
Like the saying goes, the first step is recognizing the problem. Take the next step in addressing the problem.