Several events will take place all over the world to mark International Women’s Day, to celebrate their economic, political and social achievements.
Traditional gender roles have presented household income from a perspective where women were expected to stay at home and look after children. Economic reality today means that most families must rely on more than one income to achieve even the most basic family goals of educating children, modest living, and planning for one’s retirement and estate.
Barack Obama once stated that women, half of America’s workforce, are primary or co-breadwinners in two-thirds of American families. One wonders what Nigerian statistics would reveal.
Indeed, women in Nigeria are earning and contributing a significant part of the household income, sometimes even assuming the role of primary earner. This social phenomenon has financial, emotional and psychological implications for both men and women particularly in a patriarchal society with its traditional views.
Traditional role reversals can be disconcerting, and can lead to frustration or resentment as an increased financial burden is placed on women on the one hand and potentially bruised male egos on the other if such issues are not addressed as a partnership in the family setting. It is so important that money matters are discussed in relationships and marriage to help to smooth over some of these thorny issues.
Whilst the general principles of personal financial planning are universal and apply to both genders, women face unique challenges that translate to distinct concerns regarding their earning potential, roles and responsibilities. Women generally have a longer life expectancy and are more likely to live alone for significant periods of time. Workforce participation can be intermittent, and the care of dependents, children and aged parents, usually falls on women.
In Suze Orman’s book, “Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny,” she illustrated what she termed “dysfunctional Scenarios”
- A successful working woman who contributes a sizeable portion — in many cases the majority — of the family income, but delegates all financial responsibility and decision-making her spouse of partner.
- A stay-at-home mom or non-working spouse who relies on an “allowance” from her husband who controls all money matters.
- A wife, sister, who is talented and accomplished in her career, but is constantly frustrated at being passed over for a promotion or not earning what her male counterparts are earning.
- A grandmother or aunt who doesn’t know much about money or about the family finances. If anything happens to her husband she could be in dire straights.
One of the greatest threats to your financial well being is having little or no involvement in the decision-making relating to your finances. Whilst delegating responsibility might be important for the dynamics of a relationship, it can put you at risk and render you ill equipped to handle financial matters in the unfortunate event of divorce, serious illness or death of a spouse. Many women have no idea where financial records are, or find that they are broke or deeply in debt.
Do you know where your money goes? Take our Women and Money Questionnairebelow:
1. What is the Ideal percentage of Income to Save/Invest?
- Why should I invest?
2. How should Couples Handle Family Finances?
- It’s the husband’s responsibility.
- It’s the responsibility of the higher earner.
- It’s a joint duty.
3. Are Nigerian Women Less Ambitious than Nigerian Men?
- Who cares?
4. How Do you Discuss Money in Your Relationship?
- Only when we have money issues.
- Every time.
- To each, his own.
5. Do You Have a Will?
- I’m not comfortable with the idea.
6. How Can Housewives Earn Extra?
- Set up a business.
- Ask their husbands.
How did you do on the Money Questionnaire?
A. If your answers depict that you save, invest and communicate with your partner about finances; congratulations! Studies have shown that money is the topmost cause of friction in relationships and the first step to overcoming that is through communication and teamwork.
B. If your answers reveal that you don’t save at all or enough, or that you don’t talk about money with your partner, this is a red flag.
Remember that there is no excuse these days for being totally ignorant about your finances with the plethora of information around you. You don’t have to become an expert in financial matters but at a minimum you should have some basic knowledge of the principles and the options available. Do seek guidance from an experienced, qualified professional, but remember that ultimately, you are responsible for your finances and the final decision, is yours.
HAPPY WOMEN’S MONTH!