If there is one thing women excel at, it is taking care of others. It is something that not only comes naturally to us, but that society has conditioned us to prioritise. While feminism has come a long way, in many regards the outdated expectations of women still stand. I think John Wayne put it best when he said “women have the right to work wherever they want to, as long as they have dinner ready when you get home”.
The fact that little has changed in this regard is evident when we take a look some recent statistics. According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, despite making up half of the workforce women make up only 37.9% of full time employees and 67.2% of part time employees in Australia. And during lockdown? Well, the Australian Institute of Family Studies found that women were 5 times more likely to take on the primary carer role while also working from home.
Needless to say when our mental load is under so much pressure, something has to give and for many of us, financial matters are the first to go.
While expectations of women still haven’t changed, the financial reality of the world we live in has. For example, divorced women approaching retirement age are often broke and facing homelessness, after having dedicated their lives to caring for their families. Women also feel more financially stressed than men, and are twice as likely to be the victims of financial abuse.
But it doesn’t have to be like that!
Here are four simple steps to help you shift your relationship with money and in doing so, improve your financial wellbeing and independence.
Start by taking a moment to reflect on your relationship with money and identify what thoughts and beliefs you hold. For example, do you feel overwhelmed making financial decisions? Do you believe that you’re bad with money? Perhaps you feel a great deal of guilt or shame about your situation.
A good exercise can be to keep a journal for a week and record any emotions and thoughts that you experience in relation to money. Review the entries at the end of the week and see if you can spot any recurring patterns.
What you think and feel about money has developed over time as a result of your upbringing. Meaning that you weren’t born with your money beliefs. You learned them, copied them, and responded to them as a result of what you saw your parents, grandparents, and other adults around you doing.
So take a moment to reflect on how your parents were with money when you were growing up and which of these patterns of behaviour you share with them. Were they often stressed or anxious? Were they secretive? Frugal? Overly generous? Strict?
Also consider the language that you use. Do you say things like ‘we can’t afford it’ or ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’? Consider, who did you learn these from?
Research has found that women tend to have less financial confidence than men. As a result, we often shy away from some of the bigger financial topics such as superannuation and investing.
So pick one topic that you would like to learn more about and dedicate some time to researching it. These days there is no shortage of information and online support groups, making it all the easier to build your financial literacy. Remember, there is no such thing as a silly question!
A great starting point to changing your financial habits for the better can be to write down the limiting beliefs and stories you tell yourself every day that aren’t serving you. Then rip them up and throw them in the bin! Now write down some positive affirmations that you will commit to repeating in their place. If you find yourself surrounded by people who put you down and make you second guess yourself, try to connect with more like minded individuals who will cheer you on instead.
Over the years, women have been conned into believing two major lies. The first, that we aren’t good with money. And the second, that we have more important things to do than take care of our money.
Neither could be further from the truth. But just by incorporating a bit of financial self-care into your daily routine, you can easily pave your way towards a wealthier mindset and bank account.