[Dash of SAS] A man is not a financial plan
Drafting business plans. Running and maintaining a start up. How to apply for and get credit.
It had all the makings of a high-powered meeting. It was the chatter around the room and the easygoing conversation of women dressed in their own version of “business attire” that gave an indication that this kind of shoptalk had a distinctly feminine twist.
This was the scene at the women’s business forum that I attended. We were all eager to learn how to make use of various technological tools to run both a business and a home in between pajamas and stilettos; in between running after deadlines and toddlers prone to bruised knees and elbows.
The group of women on center stage were all prime examples of how it could be done and we women in the audience were all eager to learn from them.
We were all frantically taking notes on how to make juggling look more effortless when the moderator of the discussion shared her secret to the quintessential question of the moment: How can you have it all?
“But you know girls, the best arrangement,” she started to say, pausing to keep everyone in suspense, “is to just have your husband pay for all your credit card bills.”
I was stunned out of my live Tweeting frenzy and blinked.
The comment was initially met with giggles and the moderator, perhaps taking this as encouragement, pummeled on, “Diba?”
This time, her follow up question was met with cheers and solidified by re-Tweets amplifying the sentiment for all of cyberspace to hear.
In the midst of all this talk about taking charge of your life, your business, your family, girls were still being encouraged to let a man pick up the tab of their financial future? The contradictory message was dumbfounding.
What happened to the working girl’s mantra that a man is not a financial plan?
Women lead longer lives
Numbers don’t lie and a man—or anyone for that matter—not being your financial plan has more to do with statistics than feminist ideology.
Women usually outlive their partners. According to the National Statistics Office (NSO), the life expectancy of women is 71.64 years old. On the other hand, the life expectancy of men is 66.11 years old. On the average, women are expected to outlive men by 5.53 years.
Women may hold the purse strings, but many are intimidated by going beyond budgeting to think about investing and creating a multi-mix portfolio (see next point on women quiver at numbers). They leave these seemingly complicated matters to a man. But numbers show that at some point in our lives, women will need to know how to manage our finances on our own. Isn’t it better to start young?
Women quiver at numbers
Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You to be Rich conducted a survey that revealed that 58 percent of men feel more confidence toward their money and finances, compared to 44 percent of women. Females also feel more anxiety toward finances (33%) than men (18%).
A recent retirement survey from ING Direct found that 78 percent of women say they lack financial savvy or are still learning about retirement planning. Additionally, 1 in 3 married women admit they give power to their spouse or significant other for their retirement planning.
Women find financial planning intimidating, but don’t blink at the prospect of a fragile newborn that will require care and nurturing for at least 18 years. What if we took to investing and retirement planning the way we do with infants—by taking baby steps?
More women are choosing to stay single or have children on their own
The Decline of Marriage and Rise of New Families, a study conducted by PEW Research in collaboration with TIME Magazine, reveals that in
1960, two-thirds (68%) of all twenty-somethings were married. In 2008, only 26 percent were. Some opted for cohabitation over marriage. Others opted to have children on their own.
In the Philippine context, there is a similar—though yet to be documented—occurrence. Janiel, a 36 year-old corporate executive, is bent on having a child, whether or not she gets married. “It’s ironic, right? There are all these women who get pregnant by accident and are scrambling to make ends meet. And here I am, financially stable and emotionally ready to make room in my life for a child. Not having a partner is a nice to have, is but not necessary for me [to have a child].”
The only true equality is economic
Lastly, and probably the only non-numerical reason is you should not entrust your financial future to someone else is that the only true equality is economic.
The generation of feminists who came before us fought for us to enjoy the privilege to choose to work outside the home, but like any privilege, it is attached to a certain responsibility of paying your own way. Adults call it accountability.
It’s not about earning the same or more than your partner. Just as the term “financial planning” connotes, it’s all about putting away enough to be able to weather and withstand whatever life throws at you and still remain standing.
After all, the most important thing that money can buy is the freedom to choose, act and live. – Rappler.com