Women are the heartbeat of the world. Our strength, perseverance, and bravery shines through in everything. This month I really sat in the fullness of what it is to be a woman. I stepped back in almost every experience, every thought, and every conversation to think about how this would be different if I were a man. Never having put my experiences under such a comparative microscope, I was humbled by how freakin’ impressive we are! Excuse the f-bomb but it’s the first word that came to mind that appropriately expresses the fullness of women. 

Beyoncé’s “Who Runs the World”, Emmy Meli’s “I Am Woman” and Toni Jones’ positive affirmations attempt to capture the depth of us, but I think it’s impossible to communicate our intricacies in 16 or 32 bars. When I think of all we manage, handle, and navigate I am overwhelmed and can see why 58% of women scoot over and allow their spouses to control their finances, and why 56% of women don’t talk regularly about finances. 

Women spin so many wheels at once that it’s easy to let the chips fall where they may but realities like often being paid less, being charged more for common items, and having a longer life expectancy than men makes it critical that we are active participants in the management and understanding of our personal and household finances. In addition, women are expected to take control of $30 trillion by 2030. That’s a whole lotta money (in my BIA voice). Apologies in advance, as I know for some the load is already heavy, but ladies this is one more task I need you to take on.

Before you dive into the weeds of learning the how to’s, you need to first make a declaration that managing and understanding your personal and household finances is important and second you need to have a clear picture of the money you currently and/or will have authority over.  

 

Accept the responsibility

If you don’t think it’s important to manage and take control of your finances, you won’t. It’s really that simple. A life event may force you to take control temporarily, but once it is over it’s unlikely you’ll continue because you didn’t make a conscious decision to do it in the first place. You were forced. For some, this is an easy check in the box. You know you need to get better but just have not made it a priority. For you I say, stop procrastinating. 

For others, you have a strained relationship with money, you don’t like managing it, or you’re just comfortable giving power to someone else. I challenge you to think about the impact of your decision. Who will be affected by your lack of control and understanding? If the answer is no one, then cool, but if that’s not the case, I want you to have that top of mind on your journey. When things get tough and you’re frustrated, remember the process is important because of (insert who will be affected here).  

 

Understand the assignment 

You’ll need to have a thorough understanding of all the money you are responsible for. This includes money you manage now as well as money you’ll handle in the future, like inheritances. Knowing the total value is a start but you’ll need more specifics to classify your understanding as thorough. Be sure you have the following information for all money:     

  • Complete contact information for where the account is located. 
    • You’ll need the name, address, telephone, and email 
  • Account number and name 
    • Is it a joint account? If yes, with who?
  • Amount in the account 
  • Instructions for accessing the account 
    • Don’t forget to include all the information for your digital footprint.
  •  Beneficiaries of the account 

The process for gathering this information will be different for each person.  If you have to work with a parent or spouse your inquiries may come as a surprise if you haven’t been involved previously. Be patient with their reaction and take the time to walk them through why this is important. You can back it up with the facts I shared above. You may also have some real-life examples that support your new interest in this area.  If you don’t feel ready to leap into this area, make a plan for when you will be.  Women are expected to be the family breadwinner for at least one year before their child turns 18 and with our investment portfolios outperforming our male counterparts by 0.4% we can’t afford not to take control of our finances.