Believe it or not the following is NOT a statistic from the 1950’s,
A recent 2021 UBS study found only 20% of couples make joint financial decisions with 70% of men taking the lead on long term financial decisions. And to reconfirm this IS a 2021 study!
Despite women being more educated, accomplished and empowered than ever before 82% of us feel that our partners know more than we do when it comes to money!
We have come so far but there is still so much to change
As the lead author of the story, Sherman Hanna, a Professor of Consumer Sciences at Ohio State University said; “Despite the progress women have made in society, there still seems to be a gender gap in who takes care of the finances especially in wealthy households”
The old money gender stereotypes were exacerbated by the 2020 pandemic with at least 78% of women saying they deferred to their husbands when it came to running the finances as they quite literally didn’t have the band-with having to juggle running the household, home-school and in some cases also holding down a job.
Men are still most likely to be viewed as the financially knowledgeable partner and I have heard stories from many women who have experienced this first hand where they have either been totally ignored when attending a personal finance related meeting with their partner in attendance or asked where their partner is when attending one on their own.
Ironically, according to Paula Polito, the Divisional Vice Chair at UBS Global Wealth Management, both men and women believe that true equality is built on full participation of women in all aspects of their financial affairs.
However we are not making speedy progress on that front.
A depressing finding in the study was that while Baby Boomers, the generation born before 1964, are most likely to share financial decisions between partners, it’s the Gen Xers and Millennials that are behind the curve despite the majority of males in this cohort saying they want their spouse to be more involved.
Financial Self-care is prioritising self-preservation
Two thirds of women in the study stated they want to be taken care of with 73% saying they avoid being financially involved out of lack of interest.
This equally shocked and horrified me and while I don’t want to be all judgy given that I also like the idea of being taken care of, being on top of our finances is the ultimate act of self care!
A telling part of the findings was that 70% of the participant men revealed they don’t trust their spouse to make good choices and some even went so far as to disclose that in the event of divorce they would be in a better position to take care of their assets as the lead decision maker. So clearly the men have the self-care and self-preservation bit nailed down.
And while I’m not suggesting women should be keeping one eye on the money and the other on the door, life does happen and you don’t ever want to have to get on top of the finances in a not so nice situation.
Lack of involvement or indifference to money management means women are missing out on having a voice in decisions that will not only affect their family but will most definitely impact their futures.
Women are likely to outlive their partners, divorce in the over 50 age category has doubled over the last 3 decades and many women are simply choosing to remain single which means 8 out of 10 of us are going to end up at some point solely responsible for our money.
Communication is the key
Despite all the previous statistics, one thing those polled overwhelmingly agree on was that making financial decisions together would make them both feel more financially secure and confident. 80% of women further confirmed that despite their lack of financial confidence they would feel better prepared if something happened to their spouse if they were more involved.
As the report concludes, “women don’t need to take the lead or be solely responsible for making long-term decisions. Just participate. Certainly, all women should have a say in the decisions that to a great extent will determine their future. Women have an obligation to take their seat at the money table. When they do, women unlock more opportunities to design the life and legacy they want.”
And men are critical in supporting us in removing the barriers we have historically faced. So get the money conversation started with your partner and open the door to prosperity and a better financial legacy for your family and yourself!