I know last Friday I promised you all kinds of great content from the Women’s Conference I attended last week. Well, then life got in the way. The whole month of October was a blur, as I traveled every other week and the weeks I wasn’t traveling, I was struggling to catch up at home and at work.
And now I’m staring at my notes with such great content, but wondering how to slice and dice it for all of you so that it makes sense.
We’ll start with Women and Finances, as that was a big topic of discussion. The first speaker I’ll discuss was Lois P. Frankel, author of Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich. She started off her talk asking the audience what were the messages we received about money as we were growing up. Some of those were:
- Men take care of the finances (because they’re good with numbers, and women aren’t)
- We’re taught to be nice girls, and to have people like us (if women are powerful, they are called a B-I-T-C-H, where as powerful men are called successful)
- Don’t have uncomfortable conversations (such as those about money)
- If you work hard, you will be rewarded
- Don’t worry about your education, your income will be “extra”
And the key is that now most women are working outside of the household, and it’s time for us to stop being NICE and to start managing our finances. We need to stop saving our money and start INVESTING it. We need to have the goal of being rich, which is defined as having all the money you need to live the life you want, free from concerns about money.
Another big topic she covered is that women are by nature caretakers. Women tend to go into nurturing professions, which include teaching, nursing, etc, and notice that those are the most underpaid professions. She asked the audience how many of us were told that we should be teachers, and almost everyone raised their hands. She then asked how many of our brothers were told to be teachers, and almost no one raised their hands. I’m not saying that teaching isn’t an honorable profession, just pointing out how women tend to be socialized to take lower paying positions.
And why are those care giving professions so underpaid?! It is wrong, as where would our society be without teachers and nurses? We need to start standing up and demanding that those people get more pay.
She also talked a lot about socializing today’s girls, noting that at 13, they tend to “dumb down” because that’s what they believe they need to do to get people to like them. We need to teach them to save, to give back through philanthropy, the difference between wants/needs, and we need to have open conversations with them about the household finances.
That leads into a second speaker, Valerie Morris, a former CNN correspondent, who recommended that teenagers should sit down with you when you pay bills so that they can see how much money is required on a monthly basis to keep the lifestyle you enjoy. That is a huge concept to me, as we never talked about money much in my household. (Not to say my parents did it wrong, as they instilled a very healthy philosophy of money within all of their kids). I’m just saying that this is a new generation, and one way to combat this culture of greed that seems to be overcoming tweens and teens these days is to teach them openly about finances.
She said that at retirement age, 90% of women will be responsible for their own financial well being, and that the average age of widow-hood in the US is 55.
WOW. I sure hope to God that doesn’t happen, but I had no idea about that statistic. It does make a case for women to make sure they are financially secure for themselves, and not just relying on their husbands. She was actually talking about leadership, and said that every day we lead, and for many of us, we are leading our children. Teaching our children about finances is our own act of leadership. She suggested that you start teaching children about finances at age 3, giving them four piggie banks: one for college, one for something special, one for giving/philanthropy, and things you want.
She said that you teach your children about needs and wants by telling them that parents will cover their needs (clothes, food, etc.), and they will pay out of their piggie banks for their wants (parents can contribute if they think it’s appropriate). But importantly, there should be a philanthropy component in everything we do — as adults and children.
She then said that we give our children two gifts — roots and wings. The wings are the harder gift to give. But the biggest gift of all that we can give our children is our own financial independence in retirement (otherwise, it will be a huge burden to them). As for the trend of 20 somethings returning to their parents’ houses after college, she stressed that at age 20, you’re “off the payroll”, and if they return home, they need to be paying rent, for food, and to have a plan for getting out on their own. Because all those adult children are doing by returning to the nest is spending their parents money that should have been theirs for retirement.
I hope some of my rambling made sense to you. I came out of these sessions feeling thankful for the way I was raised, as my parents truly taught all their kids a sound financial philosophy, and I have some great ideas now for teaching my daughter about finances in this ever changing world. I feel a bit more armed against those marketers that are just waiting to target her with their ads, toys, etc. I’m also committed to more actively manage my 401K and savings accounts.
Edited to add: Another thing that Lois P. Frankel said is that women are socialized to think they aren’t good at math. The truth is that girl’s brains don’t develop to start comprehending advanced math until 11th or 12th grade. We need to be teaching our girls math in a way that works for them, and advancing those teachings when appropriate. It’s something to keep in mind as our daughters enter the education system. I know I struggled a lot with math, and I think a lot of that was my attitude towards it. And the ironic part is that I deal with math on a DAILY basis, both at work and at home.